America must pause to honor all who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Our nation must be reawakened by igniting a fire of respect, reverence, and remembrance in our souls.
Honoring all who have offered the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is not only a privilege, but a sacred responsibility.
There must be a renewal of respect in the heart of America.
America must eternally heed the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
America’s Flag: Symbol of Respect
As we honor Memorial Day, respect for America’s flag must be integral.
Our flag is the symbol of America, deserving of reverence, respect, and dignity.
In traditional observance of Memorial Day, the flag is raised briskly to the top of the mast. Then, it is reverently lowered to half-staff where it remains till noon. For the remainder of Memorial Day, it is raised to full-staff.
The half-staff flag solemnly honors well over one million men and women who have died to preserve our freedom.
At noon, their memory is honored with a full-staff flag, symbolizing that their sacrifices are not in vain.
The Flags of Arlington National Cemetery
At Arlington National Cemetery, one of America’s national cemeteries and the hallowed ground for more than 14,000 veterans, our flag holds a special place of honor.
On the Thursday before Memorial Day, over 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place an American flag at each of over 260,000 gravestones at Arlington.
Afterwards, these soldiers patrol the cemetery, 24 hours per day, throughout the weekend, to insure that the flags remain standing.
America’s flag is inseparable from honor for all who have offered the ultimate sacrifice.
Perhaps these words of an unknown author best articulate honoring our fallen and our flag:
“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”
There are countless stories of the fallen, of which these two inspire respect.
U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. August Sacker Jr.
During World War II over 400,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice to save civilization from tyranny.
One such American was U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. August Sacker Jr., who joined the Marines when he was 22 years old. After previously quitting high school, Sacker went back to earn his diploma to meet Marine requirements.
Sacker was killed June 15, 1944, on the first day of the Battle of Saipan, one week after his 31st birthday. Six months prior, he was wounded in the Pacific theater and received the Purple Heart. After convalescence, Sacker requested deployment to the European theater but was sent back to the Pacific where he was killed.
I learned about Sacker after noticing his vintage World War II photograph in the living room of my neighbor Marie, his surviving sister who since then has also passed on. Marie inspired me by her devotion to her brother by visiting his grave on a monthly basis for over 40 years while she was healthy enough to do so.
Sacker is buried in Beverly National Cemetery, Beverly, N.J. His sister said, “Visiting the grave of my brother and remembering all who made the ultimate sacrifice reminds us of the enduring value of character that is America’s destiny.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley
On July 13, 2007, I was privileged to attend the full military interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery of Army 1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley, 27—killed in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2005. Lt. Dooley’s assignment was in the 2nd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), 42nd Infantry Division, Vermont Army National Guard.
I was invited to this solemn event by his parents, Marion and Peter Dooley. I met Marion Dooley at a school violence prevention presentation for the Wallkill School District in New York on Nov. 22, 2006. Because I honor American military personnel at each of my presentations, Marion shared with me the story of her son.
Although there are many vignettes that can be used to capture the event, I will never forget the expressive faces of those who honored Mark and the “clip-clop” of horse hooves in soothing cadence as they transported the caisson that carried Mark’s remains. It was the perfect orchestration of nature and emotions during the one-mile procession to Mark’s final resting place—as though even the horses sympathized with the gravity of the interment.
As America honors the fallen on this Memorial Day, may we reawaken reverence throughout our land.
Perhaps these words, from President John F. Kennedy will assist us with our observance:
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live them.”
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen to Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com