AP NEWS

Ron Jackson: Volunteers get to appreciate history and sacrifice

May 26, 2019

One big thank you is in order. To everyone who participated in this year’s veterans flag placement — be it the first time or several dedicated years — thank you.

Thank you to not only to those who participated in the three local cemeteries I participated in, but also to those of you who have dedicated years of flag placement service to veterans at other local sites and nationally.

As it should be for Memorial Day, millions of flags are placed on graves of veterans across the country.

Not only is honoring those who are no longer with us the least we can do, but — more particularly in light of our recent political turmoil — doing so was cathartic for me.

It was truly an honor to work along with others who were there with a singular, mutual purpose to honor Americans.

The task always has been about more than the physical gesture of putting a stick in a designated spot in the ground.

Each time the final resting place is located, the hole punched and the stick inserted, it provides an opportunity to touch history.

Every site is a reminder that this name we acknowledge played an important part in all the history that we might have studied or ignored.

All the books we might have read or the military movies, documentaries or television shows we might have watched, were made possible because of these very souls.

It becomes apparent that you are walking through American history.

These names of young and old, male and female left an indelible mark on our society. A mark that often is taken for granted.

If the pace is slow enough, it gives you time to realize that parts of our daily routine exists only because someone else played an integral role in making it so. But, you move on to the next, and the next, and the next grave resisting the urge to stop and ponder the enormity of each sacrifice.

On occasion, you recognize a name of a person you once knew then quickly realize that you never knew of their sacrifice or gave them their due while they we able to receive it.

As you move efficiently from gravesite to gravesite, it is the dates of birth, branches served, rank achieved, names of wars and conflicts they served that capture your attention.

However, one of the biggest challenges might be trying to correctly pronounce some of their more unique names.

When the task is completed for another year, only then can you look back at the beauty of all the flags and be reminded of all the people from our community who helped make this country what it is.

Despite the periodic or sometimes constant bickering that is broadcast 24 hours per day, we didn’t place flags on sites of anyone based on political or religious or financial or social status.

We placed American flags on graves of Americans.

Whereas it is typical for an act of war to unite us and remind us of what we have to lose, it is a wonder of Memorial Day that gives us a peaceful opportunity to unite for a common cause. Something we could use more of more often.

Should you get the chance to pass a cemetery this weekend, please give a thought to what each and every flag truly represents.

Again, thank you to every American who participated in this year’s flag placement. Thank you to those who can no longer accept our thanks.

Thanks for the history lesson. Thanks, because of some great sacrifice, for the present peace, prosperity, rights and opportunity we take for granted.

May you all have a safe and reflective weekend.

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