To The Editor:
Boy Scout Troop 588’s heartrending flag retirement ceremony at the Tavernier Elk’s Lodge stirred my mind and emotions, as I reflected upon the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
Scouting advanced the foundation upon which my core values were constructed. It aroused within me an appreciation of nature and the outdoors, while teaching me the skills to competently live in concert with God’s creation.
Growing up in the South Bronx, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to hike and camp confidently in the wilderness. In a few short years I would utilizes my scouting skills to safely traverse enemy trails in the jungles of Vietnam.
The United States Marine Corps and the Boy Scouts of America had trained me to the point that no matter where we were dropped off during a battle, I knew my location. My attention was solely concentrated on the enemy at hand. I credit the Boy Scouts with instructing me in the basic techniques that upon application saved my life.
The red stripes in the flags that the scouts retired represent the blood that has been shed in securing and maintaining our freedom. The flag symbolizes the principles and constitutional guarantees that our illuminated in our founding documents. It has served as a rallying point during our nation’s darkest hours.
It is the garment that is placed upon the bodies of our men and women who have been killed while answering the call of duty.
A charismatic African-American Marine carried a small American Flag during our combat operations. He wanted to hold it with his comrades on our last mission and have a group picture taken.
Several bullets tore through him and the flag that he carried. During the battle his flag was used to to apply pressure to the wounds that eventually killed him. This flag rested upon this Marine’s lifeless body as he was moved to a landing zone to begin his journey home.
Appropriately retiring the colors of our nation recognizes that the liberty guaranteed to us in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are worth defending. It validates and sanctifies the scarifies of those who have preceded us; so that their blood offerings may not have been made in vain.
My sincerest thanks to Boy Scout Troop 588, the Elk’s Club and all those who made this magnificent ceremony possible.