Dennis Anderson

The folded flag

The presentation of the folded flag to a family member of a fallen soldier is the ultimate honor. The emotions flow during the playing of taps and the 21-gun salute.

Then as the recipient watches the presenter approach in the most solemn way, the recipient tries to pull himself or herself together to honor their loved one in the most dignified way. The words of the presenter begin, “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation…”

It’s overwhelming — all of the emotions in one: pride, grief and finality. All of these emotions sweep over the recipient, while the recipient grieves not only for the soldier but for a loved one. The soldier was a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter. Ultimately the sacrifice of the loved one and the pride that goes with it is what is carried forward with the recipient.

At least, that is what I carry for my father. I was honored by my siblings to receive his folded flag, an honor that I am most appreciative.

To the soldier

Whether your final days were waged on the battlefield or you lost your battle with life years later, your sacrifice is honored this and every Memorial Day. You may be looking down on the dysfunction of a nation that appears to be in political turmoil. You may be shaking your head and thinking, “I fought for this?”

But rest assured, no matter which side of the political argument we may be on, your service to our country was not in vain, for we know that without you there are no protests or anti-protests, there is no freedom to express our opinion, there is no freedom of speech or right to bear arms and there is no Constitution.

What we will never know unless we fought beside you is what you truly sacrificed. Did all hell break loose and enemy fire hit its mark? Did you save a fellow soldier or were you there when he took his last breath? If you survived the battles, did they haunt you in dreams the rest of your life? For those of us who weren’t there, we will never reconcile what you went through. All we can do is honor you.

Honor you we will. Not only on Memorial Day but every day. Every time we see the flag proudly displayed. We will think of you. Every time we are at an event that plays the National Anthem or we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we will think of you.

And for those of us closest to you during life, we think of you every day. And for those of us who received your folded flag, we are honored to receive it on your behalf. We are honored by your sacrifice.

I will take liberty for every person who represented your family in receiving your folded flag. We love you, and we miss you dearly. Thank you!

Dennis Anderson is a group publisher for Wick Communications Alaska.

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