Where are all the flags?
As I walked around our neighborhood in Bay Village this past Memorial Day, I was dismayed at how few houses were flying the American flag. Of all the days of the year when Americans – regardless of their political stripe – put out their flags, Memorial Day is one of two days that it should be flown proudly from each home in every town and city.
Memorial Day and Veterans Day are even more important days of remembrance than Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and Presidents Day since none would exist if it were not for the nearly 2.5 million Americans who have given their lives; and the millions of others who have served their nation, to first secure every citizen's unalienable rights, and to protect and ensure those rights to the present day from all enemies foreign and domestic.
I am reluctant to put my neighbors on the spot by asking them why they did not fly the flag on such an important day. Whether they were veterans or not, the point is that they would not have the rights and privileges of American citizenship, their wonderful community, their nice homes and cars, their wealth and well-being, their safety without the sacrifice made by all of our military veterans, most especially those who paid the ultimate price for their country.
World War II veterans were a large part of my life, and their presence had a great impact on me. Over 15 million Americans served in the military during that war. Over 9 million of my contemporaries in the Baby Boomer generation served; 3.5 million of them in Vietnam. Those numbers were very large for the time since there were far fewer Americans than there are now.
Today, in a population of over 330 million people, fewer than one percent are in the military. I would be curious to know if many young people know or knew any active duty and reserve veterans from their and previous generations; know if they had served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm, Vietnam; know if any had been wounded or lost while in combat.
It would have been highly unusual for anyone in the Greatest Generation to not have known someone who gave their life in the service of the United States. The same can be said of the Boomer generation.
But it should not matter that a person does not know a veteran, or did not serve, or thinks this country is headed in the wrong direction, or does not like other Americans for their different political views.
The bottom line is without our veterans and their sacrifice, there would be no Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights. Without their sacrifice there would be no United States that all of our ancestors since 1776 risked everything to come to in order to start a new way of life unlike any other found anywhere else in history or in today's world.
Hopefully, come Independence Day, Veterans Day, more of our neighbors, and Americans in general, will come to realize the blessings of liberty this nation and its military veterans have afforded them, their children and those that came before us; and will proudly fly our flag.
Gay Borchert is a longtime Bay resident and former speech pathologist with the Bay Schools. Her husband, Doug, is a retired Bay Middle School social studies teacher and writer.