What is more mid-West America than a county fair? The horse events, cattle and pig judging, craftsmen and artists presenting their work for sale and, of course, the sausage sandwiches and scores of other fair fares all combine to make the county fair the place to be! When I was in elementary school (a few years ago) we would receive a free ticket to be used on ‘Fair Day’ when schools were closed to allow students to attend the fair. In rural areas, like Wayne County Ohio, many of the kids had animals in the fair to show.
If you have followed SCI this week on FB you know that we are spending the week at the Wayne County Fair with a booth all our own which means I have been staying at the fair quite a bit, aided greatly by my wife and family. This morning, I took a walk across the fairgrounds around 5 a.m. Other than the occasional sounds of sheep, horses, cows and even a squealing pig, most of the human animals who had spent the night were still asleep. Long before dawn, though, those who own cows were up and walking their animals to the milking stations.
What caught my attention in the pre-dawn coolness of the night was the Memorial Pavilion. There, in a nicely kept section of lawn was a set of flags around a large stone declaring the community’s support for all those who serve or have served in the U.S. military and the seals of each of the branches of the Armed Forces. Dawn was just beginning to break as I stood there lost in thought about what occurred on this Patriot’s Day in 2001. I stepped around the side of the memorial stone and lowered the American flag to half-mast as is required by Executive Order these past sixteen-years. As I secured the rope to the pole, I stepped back, rendered a hand salute and said a brief prayer, “May God bless America and may America bless God.”
On this Patriot’s Day, at our SCI booth, right in the middle of the doorway will be a flag with the Twin Towers on it and a simple statement, “We will not forget.” My hope for America this Patriot’s Day is that we truly do not forget. We must rehearse to our children and grandchildren who were not here to watch as the story unfolded, nor to hear the stories that came from the moments of horrific fear and incredible bravery, such as “Let’s Roll!” to try to help them feel the depth of the agony and the anger that was ours that day. They must realize, too, the number of young men and women who have given so much of themselves to battle the evil that seeks to destroy our nation. So many families have been torn apart since that fateful day in 2001, but their determination and resilience remains strong.
In the weeks after 9-11, American flags were everywhere. To find a house in a neighborhood that was not flying an American flag was a rarity. Pride in American exceptionalism was high. Much too soon that began to wane and then came eight years of a president who did not believe in American exceptionalism and in many ways, he did not believe in the strength of the American people.
On this Patriot’s Day may we recommit to flying our nation’s colors, reminding ourselves that we are a nation of strength, diversity, of laws that protect and that we are served by some of the best and brightest in self-sacrificing ways through our military and our first-responders. We have a duty to render to them that which they are due. May God bless America and may America bless God…
Not long after I posted this article, I was sitting under the grandstand here at the fair, in the booth where SCI is represented. While I talked with my daughter who has been working with me today, a woman who appeared to be middle-age and not physically well came in and was obviously feeling emotional as she reached out and took both mine and my daughter’s hand, thanking us for displaying the ‘We Shall Never Forget’ 9-11 September 11, 2001 flag. Then she told us how she had been on one of the first in ambulances to the Towers on that day. Her partner perished in the Second Tower, after having helped several out of the First Tower. She related how much it meant to her to see people who cared enough to remember those who served on that day. It was an honor for me to shake her hand and thank her for her service, that I was sad for the loss of her partner and that I hoped the years ahead find her well.