On May 24th Fort Wayne City Council met for its last session in Chambers at the City-County Building. On June 7th the Council will meet for the first time at the Citizen’s Square building.
I started the May 24th meeting by giving each person at the Council table a poppy from the American Legion Auxiliary. I also began what I hope will be a new tradition that endures beyond this year; I requested that the Boy Scouts who were present at our meeting to lead the Council in the Pledge of Allegiance that begins the Council’s regular session.
These are two small gestures of public commemoration. The Waynedale community provides a much bigger example.
This time of year provides two touch points for reflecting on the meaning and symbolism our American Flag. For many us, these touch points are both public and personal.
The first is Memorial Day. It is a time for somber commemoration for those who have gone before in preserving the liberties we, as Americans enjoy. We mark it by displaying the Flag; by waving it at parades, by noting the graves of veterans at our ceremonies and by being in the presence of the Flag at ceremonies honoring those who have served.
All of those actions are brought together at Waynedale on Memorial Day. There is no better representation of the nature of the respect American citizens have for the Flag than the manner in which the Waynedale community observes Memorial Day. Waynedale – and particularly its veteran organizations – can be proud of the exemplar that Waynedale has become.
The Waynedale Memorial Day parade gives a thrill when the band music and the sirens mark the start. Since I have had the opportunity to walk the parade route I get energized from those who have come to join in a community experience. This year sight of one young American – no more than two years old – holding flags in both hands will stay with me as a memory.
However, another thrill came at the end of the parade, when one of the folks who had walked with us said, “This is what Indiana is really about.”
It was also good to see so many people along the Parade route wearing the Buddy poppies from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both the American Legion poppies and the VFW poppies grew out of an effort following WW I to memorialize the contributions of our service men and women.
The second day of observance for the Flag is Flag Day on June 14th.
President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1916 recognizing June 14th to commemorate the adoption of the US Flag by the Second Continental Congress. It has always been easy to remember as the day was also my parents’ anniversary date.
The poppies of Memorial Day always bring back memories of my childhood. My sister and I stood inside the old Lincoln Bank branch in New Haven offering poppies from American Legion Post 330. And so it is that the symbolism of the poppy and the symbolism of the Flag come full circle for me.
The meaning and memories we attach to these commemorations are important and powerful. It is important to mark those occasions in the public sphere because those meanings transmitted to young people become the foundation for preserving our Republic.
Thank you to the Veteran’s organizations of the Waynedale community for providing a fitting example for younger people. Thank you to those who are serving their Country, those who have served, and those who have sacrificed.