Gallantry knows no generation gap

This column may be an all time first for me. I was sitting quietly at my desk on Thursday morning. No one else had arrived at the newspaper yet and a single sentence came to me. This will be the first time I have written a column based on a headline that came to my mind first – “Gallantry knows no generation gap.”

I have never seen a disparity in American society like exists today. There is absolutely no link between people who were reared on patriotism, and a generation based on self-serving priorities. World War II veterans came home, went right to work and produced an economy that was the best in the world. Then, as each subsequent generation came along, that prestigious accomplishment began to erode. Instead of picking up the production, they decided to spend what the “greatest generation” had produced. Now we’re flat broke, a third world country and no one is noticing.

But I said all that to say this. There is a link in generations I had not noticed before. There is an entire generation of young people out there who have chosen to serve their country just as their fathers and grandfathers, and yes, mothers and grandmothers did.

The thread that runs through those who serve in the military is service, dedication, love for country, and responsibility. Those things have not changed.

As we face another Memorial Day I believe we should take the time to talk with our children about service. Whether we want to say it or not – here it is – You are your brother’s keeper. You do owe your country. You must be responsible for your corner of the world. I see this same spirit every day. Our young people still see the need to serve in the military, and they are really no different from previous generations.

The names of the foreign soil on which they tread may change, but the theme remains the same. Wherever there are freedom seeking people, you will find freedom loving Americans dedicated to helping them achieve those goals. Whether it is Iwo Jima, Khe Sanh or Baghdad, the same attitude is there in military personnel serving their country by their presence. There is an inherent attribute in each of them, the knowledge that freedom is not free. It comes at a price and sometimes it is the ultimate price – yet generation after generation, American young people walk into the fire.

I have been told the turnout at the Scioto County Memorial Day Association parade is abyssmal. I believe we can change that this year. I would like to urge each and every one of you to make it a point to postpone your plans for the day by just a few minutes, get a flag, no matter what size, large or small, and carry it and stand along the parade route and show your support for those who provided the freedom you enjoy. I will have to miss it this year because I will be undergoing a medical procedure. But I will catch up with everyone at Greenlawn Cemetery.

I would love to see hundreds – no, thousands – line the route – Chillicothe Street from Ninth to Gallia, Gallia Street from Chillicothe to Offnere Street and Offnere Street from Gallia to Greenlawn Cemetery. I would like to see a sea of red, white and blue. I would love to see people stand at attention when the American flag passes. I would like to see a solemn humility exhibited for the Gold Star Mothers.

If you live in Minford, Southe Webster, or one of the other communities where Memorial Day events are scheduled, by all means turn out and support those events. But if you live in the city of Portsmouth or a community without an observation, please change the landscape of the Memorial Day parade in Portsmouth by taking a few minutes to honor those people who have given the full measure of duty, and come out. Call two other people and invite them.

I would love to hear a report that the turnout was large and the spirit American.

Honoring those who made America great is not just an idea, it is a privilege. Standing at attention for the passing American flag is not some ritual, it is an honor. Please show your support for America and turn out for the parade. Your heart will be touched in a way you have never known before.

P.S. – know how holidays bring back the memories of those who have gone before? My thoughts this Memorial Day are on my long time friend Jim Saddler. To be honest, in one way that holiday will never be the same. Thank you Jim Saddler for always reminding us on Memorial Day of the greatness of America.

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By Frank Lewis

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