Remembering our veterans
Published 11:04 am Wednesday, May 28, 2014
FRANKLIN—Monday was not just a day off from work and school, but it was more so a day for remembrance and honor, said Jean Cannon, Post 73 Auxiliary president.
“It is not just for going to the mall and the sales. It is not just for grilling and BBQ,” she said. “It is a time to reflect on those who have given their lives so that we have these freedoms and much, much more.
“We come to honor them, and their pledge to protect our freedom, no matter the cost.”
Col. Linwood Greene took time to also honor POWs/MIAs. Going back to WWII, Greene said, some 88,000 men and women are unaccounted for.
“After we commemorate Memorial Day here, many of us will go home and spend time with our loved ones, our family and friends, and we are going to eat. We are going to have cookouts, and we are going to go to restaurants and enjoy ourselves,” he said. “POWs/MIAs can’t do that. I want to remind you of that today.”
Greene had the table of honor set up for those POWs/MIAs. The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one person against his or her oppressors. The table has a white cloth, symbolizing the purity of their intentions. There is a single rose to remind people of the family and loved ones keeping the faith. There is a red ribbon as reminders to those who demand proper accounting of the missing. The candle symbolizing the upward reach of an unconquerable spirit. There is a slice of lemon, symbolizing their bitter fate. There is salt on the bread plate, symbolizing the tears of the family. The glass is inverted because they cannot toast with us today. The chair is empty because they are not here.
“This table symbolizes the fact that members of our profession are missing from our midst,” Greene said. “We call them brothers. They are unable to be with us this afternoon. We pause to remember them.
“We will remember until the day they come home.”
Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) said that we do remember those men and women who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “gave that last great measure of devotion to their country.”
“It just amazes me at the people who come together to keep this country strong,” he said. “Of the men and women who serve, who are captured or missing that you never hear about, we are not going to forget. We are going to continue to do this.”
Forbes talked about Arlington Cemetery on this weekend, with its 260,000 plus flags out one foot from the graves.
“If you have not been there, you owe it to yourself to just go and just walk,” he said. “There is something about the presence that you feel that’s almost sacred.
“At first blush, it seems to be thanking these 260,000 who have sacrificed for our country. On a closer look, you see 260,000 symbols of the price of freedom. It never came free.”
Serving on the armed services committee, Forbes said before he goes to bed and as he gets up, he always has a central question. “Have we done everything we can for these men and women who are fighting for freedom around this planet?”
To the guys in suits, Forbes said acceptable risk is how many planes, ships and men and women you can lose and still have a probability of winning. For the soldier, however, Forbes said that definition needed to change.
“To the people wearing the uniforms, what it means to them, is how many they serve with will come back alive,” he said. “We owe it to them, all of them, to redefine the definition of acceptable risk. We will not send men or women to protect freedom unless the proper resources are given to them that guarantees the highest probability that they return to the land they love, that they are defending and fighting for.”
As much as it seems, the congressman said Memorial Day is not a sad day.
“As we look at all of these flags, and all of the men and women that continue to help, we hope that we get a part of that contagion of courage. And that we take it, nurture it, breathe life into it and give it to the next generation. So that they will continue to keep that hope alive.”