Monday, May 21, 2007

Flags for our predecessors

On Saturday, in what is an annual ritual around the country, I participated in placing flags on veteran’s graves as I have been honored to do for over 10 years now. This is done in all military and civilian cemeteries alike, by soldiers and volunteers. The Flags are provided by the county, service organizations or Federal government – one for each deceased veteran’s grave. Each flag is placed in Broze or aluminum holders pre-placed at each grave site for the purpose.

Americans regard Memorial Day as a day set aside for cookouts, opening the pool, lazy summer days start, afternoon naps, or other summertime pursuits. In today’s high impact lifestyles it often just represents another Monday holiday. The holiday doesn’t have the same spit and polish it did 138 years ago, when Decoration Day, the forerunner of Memorial Day, was established by Union veterans of the Civil War.
Accounts from that time describe:

Citizens were called to "gather around (the veterans') sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime," the official order read. "Let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom they have left among us as a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude.

Locally, Memorial Day and the tradition of putting flags on veterans' graves gets harder every year as veteran’s organizations get smaller, and older. The roster of members placing the flags are just as resolute in their determination to see the gratitude of our country is still communicated directly to veteran families and survivors. Placing a 12 x 18 Flag on a deceased veteran’s grave is a small token of acknowledgement that we remember and appreciate the veteran’s service to this country.

So Readers – on this Memorial Day – consider putting up a flag – wherever you are… enjoy the holiday and give a minute or two reflection on the soldiers that served. Many are living among us and will enjoy the holiday as well but as any veteran can attest - All give some, some gave all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog.

I especially caught on to the line about the veterans organizations growing older and smaller.

But one must remember, even at the height of the "big 4" (VFW, Legion, DAV and AMVETS) membership, their membership never reached the levels that represented the nearly 16 million men and women that served in the military during WWII. I believe that the Legion topped out at something like 3 million in the early 90s followed by the VFW and DAV shortly thereafter.

Todays service members will eventually take their place within the VSOs, but it will take a bit of time and for them (VSO Posts/Chapters) to get out of the bar that serves veterans mentality that some posts have adopted and become a Post that contains a bar. That one factor is a turn off for many of todays young veteran.