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Neighbor to Neighbor: Patriotism important beyond Memorial Day

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Although Memorial Day is gone for another year, its importance deserves further mention. The Laurelton Parade Committee members did a wonderful job and are certainly commended. I particularly appreciated the information printed and distributed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Ladies Auxiliary, entitled, “Meaning of Memorial Day.” This was prepared by the VFW Citizenship Education Department and presented the protocol for flag display on that day of national mourning: “All U.S. Flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon, they should be raised back to full-staff.”

I hope they will add a statement reminding us that the flag of the United States never should be allowed to drag on the ground, and it certainly should not be stepped on. This may be an especially difficult lesson to teach large groups of children during an event. It would, therefore, be appropriate to prepare them for next year, as well as Flag Day, June 14, and the Fourth of July holidays.

Our flag and those who have lost their lives, suffered grave injuries or are still fighting to keep us safe deserve to be honored and respected. In May 1868, then Union Army General James Garfield, (later to become this country’s 20th president), said on that first national memorial observance, “They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.” Decorum and silence during Memorial Day services are appropriate.

Later that day, another patriotic event, the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Gary Mariner, took place at St. Pius X School. The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared.” Gray began his scouting career as a Cub Scout and through the years progressed as Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and, finally, Eagle Scout — “the highest award that the Boy Scouts of America can bestow upon a boy.” It was not an easy path. He earned leadership positions as scribe, assistant patrol leader and patrol leader. He earned 21 Merit Badges and three Honors & Achievement Awards. Gary left scouting for a while and when he returned was required to achieve his necessary goals within time limitations.

He feared that he would never be able to get through; however, there was one person who never shared that doubt — Gary’s mother. She not only retained her faith in him and his abilities, but helped renew his faith in himself. He said that she never let him down. He continued to learn about life’s challenges and complexities and about other generous people who were willing to share efforts and experiences with him. He also learned that many of the people who already had become Eagle Scouts also had overcome serious hardships. Strength and satisfaction sometimes results from overcoming obstacles. Trust grew, as did support. He learned patience, diligence, perseverance and how to choose his friends wisely.

Witnessed by his parents, scoutmaster, troop and community, the youngster who had started out as a Cub Scout stood before the Court of Honor on Monday, May 27, to receive his badge of Eagle rank, as well as other prestigious awards. We are very proud of this young man, his mother and Troop 556 for having produced three other Eagles prior to Gary’s achievement.

Gary not only presented his parents with awards (an Eagle pin and beautiful bouquet with awards for his beloved mom and an Eagle tie tack for his dad), but also gave Eagle Scout Frederick Kress, president of the Rosedale Civic Association, with an Eagle drinking cup, “for always being there when he was needed.” We strongly suspect that Gary always will be there when he is needed. He is a fine young man and received much-deserved congratulations and kisses, followed by a beautiful feast which was shared by all in attendance. We will be waiting to hear of his future successes!

I must also mention the very moving ceremony that was held on our traditional Memorial Day, May 30, not only again remembering those who died in military service, but those who died as the result of acts of war on Sept. 11, and those brave people who have worked tirelessly to recover and save victims or their remains. We thank you for the sacrifices you made and for the tasteful, solemn service given in remembrance. We will never forget!

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