Memorial Day

Memorial Day, 1997. I was performing the flag dedication ceremony for the new veterans memorial in Columbus Indiana. (I am just out of view to the right) As we were raising the flag, the national anthem echoing in the background, myself and my detail at attention, facing the flag, my back to the crowd, I could hear a roar of chatter and conversation behind me. This infuriated me and I wanted so much to turn around and scold this crowd... and remind them of just what was going on. Remind them to show some respect for their flag, their country and the honored veterans who have given their lives so that they may have the luxury of standing here in this town square today. When, from the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my 5 year old daughter, facing the flag, standing at attention and saluting. A red cross worker had snapped this picture at that very moment. I fought to hold back the tears; this father was so proud of that little girl. I wanted to turn around and silence the crowd and point out to them, the shining example set by this little girl. This little girl, who understood, why we were there.

After the ceremony and having marched my detail out of the area, I was returning to find my daughter. As I approached her, I saw a little old man, bent over from some ailment, speaking to her. He was thanking her for her show of respect and patriotism during the ceremony. He said "You know, that flag, means a lot to me and I was looking around as the flag was going up the pole and saw everyone chatting and laughing and not paying any attention. But then, I saw you.. standing there.. saluting.. and that made me feel good...and very proud... Thank you little girl." She listened intently and when he finished, she asked him "Did you fight for me?" You could see the tears well up in his eyes as he told her "Yes honey, I did". She gazed into his watery eyes... thought for a moment... and saluted him.. and said.. "Thank you".

Capt. Gary Conway, Sr Tac-Ofcr, IGR-TC

The Last Full Measure of Devotion... USAF American Heritage Band

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