OP-ED: Memorial Day 2020 and our symbol of persistence

Terry Gendron
York County Veterans Affairs

Although directives are in place limiting gatherings of groups in excess of 25 people, many of us will take a moment to pause, remember and give thanks to the fallen who have given their lives in service to the United States of America. 

We will visit one or more of the hundreds of monuments and cemeteries throughout York County and leave wreaths and flowers. We will recall dear memories of friends and family members who have fallen, and taps will resonate in areas surrounding small gatherings. Others outside our gatherings will hear the 24 notes that tap deep emotion in many of us and perhaps be drawn to pause in reflection and gratitude.

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One Memorial Day tradition reflects the resilience and perseverance of our nation, and it is fitting to share it with you. On Memorial Day, our nation’s colors fly at half-staff only for the first half of the day, and at noon they are raised to full-staff.

This unique custom was at one time meant to honor the fallen in the morning and living veterans the remainder of the day. Congress codified the tradition in 1924 with the proclamation, “For the nation lives, and the flag is a symbol of illumination.” For many of us today, the noon flag-raising symbolizes the persistence of our nation in the face of loss. 

Persistence — the firm continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty — is reflected by the deeds of the men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation. It is that example of persistence that we all can draw upon in reflection this Memorial Day.

— Terry Gendron is York County's director of Veterans Affairs.