A tattered flag, barely six months old was changed with care and ceremony today by Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Girl Scout Troops. Six months flying above Founders Park, the American flag is a part of the centerpiece of the Celebration Veterans Memorial whose idea for a memorial was conceived by a young Scout working towards his Eagle Scout badge, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. The young Scout passed away before seeing his project completed. The Scouts and the community saw to it that the young boy’s worthy project would be completed. A plaque honoring him is posted at the site. His young life, like the flag, became tattered and worn by illness.
Today’s Memorial Day Ceremony honored fallen members of the Armed Forces as guests sat under white tents or stood about the grounds of Founders Park. The day’s ceremony was dedicated to the memory of a young Marine Lance Corporal from St. Cloud, Florida, the first Osceola County resident killed in the line of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom/War on Terrorism.
I sat alone, then recognized a friend sitting in the row in front of me. A long-time friend was visiting her. The two friends met while their husbands were attending a prestigious military academy. My friend, a Blue Star Mother, has two sons currently serving in the military.
After the conclusion of the ceremony, I went to greet some other friends. We walked to view the place where a brick would be added honoring the Lance Corporal.
A family member visited Arlington National Cemetery today.
Later this day, my thoughts turned toward a particular uncle who survived Normandy but was critically wounded after his unit liberated Dachau Concentration Camp.
A few hours after the Memorial Day Ceremony, I returned to take photos. People had gathered at the memorial, walking around or sitting on benches, perhaps remembering friends or family members lost in service to our country.
Like the tattered flag, many families have broken hearts, grieving the loss of a loved one. I hope that the Veterans Memorial and its Holy Ground provided a moment of comfort to someone today.
You may like to read a story first broadcast on NPR in 2008 about journalist Jim Sheeler who won a Pulitzer Prize for stories about families losing loved ones in service to our country.
The link below contains photographs from the book “Final Salute”