The LuLac Edition #1616, May 30th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: MEMORIAL DAY.
EVERY DAY FOR HIM
So I took a few minutes this morning to sit on the front porch and just think and reflect. I rarely do that because invariably someone will walk by and I’ll have to engage them in conversation. (I come across as a people person but the fact is I have no use for about 80% of the people in the world.) As I sat there drinking a Snapple, I saw my next door neighbor come out of his house in full military regalia. Nothing unusual here, as a Vietnam Veteran he takes part in those ceremonies. But then I suddenly remembered that I see my neighbor dressed like that at least 4 times a week. He is either getting in his car, taking his dog for a quick walk or standing across the street from his house waiting for a ride. But 4 times a week I see him in his full uniform. He is one of the military guard that goes to the funerals of all veterans. Retired and a disabled vet this is a daily part of his life. It dawned on me that while we are constantly beseeched to keep the “memory” and “reason why” in Memorial Day alive, for my neighbor, Memorial Day” is almost every day. When he dons that uniform and salutes the memory of a fallen comrade, Memorial Day is not just another three day weekend in May but “every day”. To my neighbors and others like him, “I say thank you for your continued service”.
The Flack family came on my radar when I was just 12 years old and Rusty’s grandfather, Harold Flack was involved in a politial battle for the 20th District Senate seat with T. Newell Wood. It was a very bombastic campaign and is seared in my memory as one of the most interesting in Luzerne County history. Rusty Flack died the other day and the outpouring of affection and respect is testimony to someone who was a true community leader. Flack was born into significant opportunities but what struck me was how he personally expanded that franchise. He never rested on any laurels and was a perfect example of someone who built on his talents and gifts, and then shared them with institutions important to him. A political buddy of mine summed it up this way in an e mail to me, “Could you imagine if a guy like that had more time? My mind boggles with what he could have accomplished had he lived to be 80 or 85!” Very true. Our condolences.
When I was running off the rails about twenty five years ago , I’d see Jon Balester in Hottle’s now and then. We talk a little politics and then he’d insist on buying me a drink. Much to his chagrin it was always a coke. Years later I saw him at a GOP event and again we reconnected on the state of his party. His tragic death cut short another life that had more potential in it.
Memorial Day is a day to honor those war dead but also all who contributed something to our everyday lives, whether it be family, friends or people like Rusty Flack and Jon Balester. May their memories live on.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day and officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Although there are many stories as to the actual beginnings, with over 24 cities claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead". While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.