Today we took our children to a “small” Memorial Day ceremony that will forever be ingrained in my Heart. They had never seen anything like it before – and neither had I, to be honest – and had dozens of questions about the speakers and presentations that were made. One of these speakers was a mother whose son had died in an accident while deployed. She shared his story, and the stories of men and women who die by suicide, none of whom would receive Medals of Honor for dying in combat, but still deserved to be remembered and honored for – as she put it – making the biggest sacrifice of all, regardless of how it played out:
“Writing a blank check to our Country to Honor and Protect us all, in an amount up to and including their lives.”
At the end of the ceremony, 3 cadets folded the Flag that had been waving overhead and handed it to the mother who had shared her family’s story, while the following explanation was read to us onlookers. We witnessed the exchange through blurred eyes and sobbed not only in sharing her pain, but out of relief that we and our children would never have to feel that pain themselves… because someone else and their family had borne that pain for us.
As for myself, I bawled watching the ceremony…
the mens’ faces somber and painstakingly intent with honoring their brother, and the mother’s face swelling with tears of heartbreak, gratitude and pride – while listening to the following words, which have been passed on through the centuries, and ring no truer Then than they do Now:
- The FIRST fold stands for Liberty. In America, we are free to own property, to elect our government representatives, to attend the church of our choice, to openly disagree, to travel freely without restriction, to pursue an education and the American Dream. The white stripes of the Flag symbolize our liberty.
- The SECOND represents Unity. Abraham Lincoln stated that a house divided against itself cannot stand. National unity in the face of natural disasters and external threats has preserved our constitutional republic.
- The THIRD stands for Justice. In America we believe that every person stands equal before the law and is deserving of just and fair treatment. The laborer and the lawyer are both entitled to justice in America. The blue of the Flag embodies justice.
- The FOURTH symbolizes Perseverance. To persevere means to endure, to remain steadfast despite severe hardship and obstacles. The Continental Army suffered repeated setbacks before claiming any significant victory. Yet throughout the brutal winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, they persevered.
- The FIFTH represents Hardiness. Hardiness is the ability to withstand difficulty while remaining resolute despite adversity. The aggressors in World War II underestimated American hardiness. They thought that Americans were soft, incapable and unwilling to endure hardship. Our soldiers and sailors proved them wrong.
- The SIXTH stands for Valor. Valor means Courage: the act of defending what is right even in the face of opposition. Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War patriot, was convicted of spying by the British in 1776. Before he was hung, Hale displayed great valor with his words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” The red color in the Flag represents valor, symbolic of the blood shed by all the American heroes who sacrificed for our freedom.
- The SEVENTH symbolizes Purity. A pure nation is free from taint, from what weakens, pollutes or renders it ineffective. Our Founding Fathers illuminated Freedom’s path for us when they created the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The pure intent of these documents enabled the United States of America to become the greatest of all nations, a land of Liberty, which beckons to all who are seeking asylum from persecution and oppression.
- The EIGHTH represents Innocence. Innocence implies that one is unacquainted with evil and is thus free from sin. George Washington once stated, “The love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct.” Americans pay tribute to him and to all those who give devoted service to uphold freedom’s ideals without selfish or evil motivations.
- The NINTH signifies Sacrifice: to give up something valued for an ideal, belief or goal. America exists today because of the sacrifices of countless Americans. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in battles waged during the Revolution, the World Wars, in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and other locations around the world. We pay tribute to them and to the firefighters, policemen, soup kitchen volunteers, members of our armed forces and numerous others who continue to sacrifice for freedom.
- The TENTH stands for Honor. One who possesses Honor has a keen sense of ethical conduct. To honor a person or ideal is to display respect for them. We give thanks for all who have acted with Honor in the founding and growth of America. We pray that each citizen and all those who represent us in government will conduct themselves in a manner that will continue to bring honor to our Nation and to our Flag.
- The ELEVENTH symbolizes Independence. Independence is the state of being Free, of being able to make unrestricted choices within the law as free individuals and as a free nation. Ever since our nation’s birth, Americans have fiercely defended their independence against all oppressors. Patrick Henry articulated the sentiments of his fellow Americans past, present and future when he uttered those famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” America stands as an icon of Freedom and Independence for the oppressed of the world. May it always remain so.
- The TWELFTH represents Truth. Truth is the body of real events and facts. It is preserved through adherence to reality and the avoidance of falsehoods. America was built upon God-given truths articulated in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Adherence to these truths has made America a great nation. We pledge to continue this noble legacy of truth so that in America, every man woman and child may forever be free.
- The THIRTEENTH represents the original thirteen colonies.
It is absolutely wild to me that these were our Founding Principles and that they were woven into the fabric of our Country’s most innate and defining moments. These are universal truths that apply then as they do, now, and our abandonment of them is why we are seeing a complete collapse not only of our Country, but of our Society as a whole.
Memorial Day is always a painful, somber, and – if I can say it – heartbreaking day for me, but this year was worse.
Perhaps it was remembering what we had against the backdrop of the last 3 years and what we almost lost. Maybe it was realizing that we still are on the brink of losing it all. Maybe it was realizing how clear and obvious what is Right and what is Wrong, what is True and what is Lies, which path we should take, and which we should avoid. And what we need to do to gain it all back, again.
I don’t know how to end this Post, but I do know that the Answer to all of our questions and to our Future is clear and it is closer and easier the attain than we think.
The only thing we have to do, is RISE UP and take it.
In honor of all of those who have died so that we may be free… thank you. “Happy” Memorial Day.