This past Monday was Memorial Day and I was privileged to spend it at Rugby’s Memorial Hall. I was privileged to watch the American Legion Color Guard Advance the Colors standing straight and proud no matter how their aging bones may ache. I was privileged to stand and listen to the melody of the National Anthem performed by the Rugby School Band, directed by Kari Hill. I was privileged to put my hand over my heart cherishing the reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and believing every word of it. I was privileged to listen to the eloquence of Pastor Joshua Reimche as he delivered the inspirational invocation. I was privileged to hear Ron Torgerson introduce the honored guest knowing that I was in the midst of individuals who stood up for the security of this country and still continue to stand. I was privileged to learn about the poem “In Flanders Fields” that was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae and narrated on Memorial Day by Don Abrahamson with a lilt in his voice that captured the moment. I was privileged to hear Dale Niewoehner’s Memorial Day Address with the depth of understanding of the Legion Post’s namesake, Clarence Albert Larson that only Dale could provide. I was privileged to partake in a moment of silence to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the POWs and MIAs and felt great pride in a friend knowing what he still does today for those still missing. I was privileged to watch the laying of the wreath, the gun salute and then to be swept away by the playing of taps with the reality of war so evident as we honored the deceased and moisture filling many eyes.
On this day of privilege, as I awoke under the blanket of freedom woven by so many brave men and women who have stood on the wall so others wouldn’t have to. I had to ask myself do I care enough about my country to take a stand, even if it not a popular one. Do I do everything I can to make my city, my county, my state better? I know I can do more and I ask every one of you to do more if you are not already doing all you can. One of the mantras I banter about in my diatribes is “taking a stand”. This is one of the freedoms we should take advantage of with so many of our brave men and women fighting for and some died doing so. One way our city, county, state, and country will grow is for its people to take a stand and be respectful of someone else who takes a stand in opposition. Dialogue, communication, listening and understanding are true paths to a better tomorrow. It is our duty to get involved, take a stand, to make a difference. If we choose not to care enough to get involved or get engaged then it is our duty not to hold it against individuals who do. There are so many good people who can help this city, this county and this state that may choose not to get involved because if they do something that someone may not like it could cost them business, friends and maybe even family. Should that be the cost someone pays by caring enough to get involved when others chose not to. We need to learn to be accepting of differences, while still not compromising our own beliefs. That is a hard line to walk that many fail to even try. They would rather hate than respectfully disagree or even fervently disagree.
I am reminded of a story of a great and wise friend who fought in Viet Nam and still has the emotional and physical scars to remind him daily of his sacrifices. Instead of lamenting or making excuses of what he did for his country, he brings life, joy and knowledge to all around him. One day we were talking about politics, as is our nature, and he shared with me a story that I will never forget. The setting was a demonstration where a group of protesters were against an initiative the military was taking, and were against the United Sates involvement in the Middle East. My friend was in the vicinity of this demonstration and the ruckus lured him there to watch. As is the nature of some protesters of this ilk, the rhetoric escalated into flag burning! This man, who fought for this country and believes in the symbol that our country’s flag represents. This man who flies the American flag with such pride. This man who still carries the scars of the battles he fought for this country. This man who consoled the loved ones of men who fought and died for this country and that flag. This man, and my dear friend, did what every man or woman who believes in what this country stands for and what that flag represents would do. He walked over to these protesters, looked them dead in the eye and with resolute and valor that only a person that has walked his journey could do uttered three simple words that spoke volumes, “You Are Welcome!” He understood exactly what he fought for.
Yes I am privileged indeed to have people like this in my life. I am privileged to live in this country that allows me to be heard even when I am wrong. I hope this propels you to pause, to remember, to get involved, get engaged or at least respect others that do.
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