As we enter the Memorial Day weekend I just wanted to take a few seconds of your time and say thank you.
Last night, 20 Scouts from my Troop joined with about a thousand Scouts from our District for the 40th Annual Flag placement ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery.
All of the units of the district presented their unit flags and their American Flags as a Marine Color Guard presented the Colors. Speeches from the Veterans Administration Cemetery Director and a Veteran of the Iraqi Campaign were made. They kept their speeches short this year due to the rain, but the point each made was about Duty and Honor and how being Boy Scouts we live those values and strive to be men and women of Character.
After the Flag was lowered to half staff and the bugler played taps the units were dismissed to begin placing small flag on the grave markers of the 133,174 men and women that have served our Great Nation interned there.
We took the time to stop and visit our most honored, Medal of Honor recipients buried at the top of the cemetery. A brief explanation of the selfless sacrifice these men made in the service of their Country and then we were off to our Troops designated area.
The Scouts placed the flags at the bottom of the marker, centered on the marker. They read the name and gave the Veteran a crisp Scout Hand Salute. For most of those honored Veterans, our Scouts will be the only visitor they received this weekend.
After we completed our assigned area, we moved on to help with some other areas, particularly Troops and Packs that are smaller and needed more help.
When we completed the placement of the Flags, I gathered the Troop up and thanked them for what they had done.
As a Veteran myself, I wanted them to know that on behalf of all Veterans, especially those of us that have served abroad in conflict, we appreciate what they did. Placing the flags so that on Memorial day, when the cemetery is packed with visitors, they see the never ending sea of red, white, and blue banners that mark the resting place of one that selflessly served their Country.
A visual reminder that for Freedom we must pay… and we pay with the lives of our men and women that choose to serve.
A reminder that so many give so much to guarantee that we maintain the life that we have here in America, all politics aside, they do it because they loved our Country and know that it is the greatest place on Earth.
So this Memorial Day weekend.. be safe and enjoy, but remember, we can because of Veterans.
Let me share you with you a poem I wrote eight years ago. It was originally published on a site called JD’s Bunker.
Rise up O’ men of Valor,
A Nation in debt to thee
For the freedom of this Republic,
You fought and died for me.
Rise up O’ men of Honor, Freedoms blood soaked on foreign lands Rise up O’ men of Valor Memorial Day 2000
The fields of battle did you go
From Lexington and Concord,
To the Bulge and all its snow.
Gettysburg to Normandy
Vietnam and Somalia
You gave it all for me.
For without you we do not share
The freedom of this nation,
Is ours because you were there.
A soldier’s cry with outstretched hands
Do not forget the price they paid,
They gave it all for Freedoms sake.
Your Honor and Courage reign.
For the price of Freedom you understood
But paid it just the same.
© Gerald J. Schleining-US ARMY
Freedoms blood soaked on foreign lands
Rise up O’ men of Valor
Memorial Day 2000