By Peggy Bakken
Neatly sandwiched between Memorial Day – the day we honor those who gave their lives for our country – and the 4th of July, a jubilant celebration of our nation’s birth – is a nondescript day called Flag Day.
Flag Day does not get a lot of attention. When it falls on a weekday, you still have to go to work. There are no parades or fireworks.
I, however, have been keenly aware of Flag Day all my life, through decades when flag-waving was fashionable and difficult days when our flag was not so popular.
First of all, I come from a long line of flag wavers, and secondly, Flag Day is my father’s birthday, born June 14, 1921.
Flag Day 2014 is bittersweet, because this will be the second Flag Day we will commemorate without him.
I have always felt it appropriate that extra attention to patriotism occurred on my father’s birthday. My father, after all, was Every Man from the Greatest Generation. He survived the Great Depression, he served bravely and suffered serious injury during World War II, and he worked relentlessly day in and day out in the grueling 24/7 life of a dairy farmer.
The crowning glory to those days of hard work and sacrifice is the legacy he leaves behind. His family stays strong and close today. The farm he worked so hard to till and harvest for six decades remains in the family. Corn and soybeans are growing in the fields, his house has a new roof, and family members gathered around a bonfire over the weekend. We feel like he’s still around, as we celebrate wonderful summer days and family milestones such as graduations and the arrival of a new baby.
When I watched the television reports last week on the anniversary of D-Day, I thought again of our World War II veterans. Can you imagine what it was like to be on the beach at Normandy that day, 70 years ago?
My father was on the other side of the world at the time, serving in the Army engineers, building airstrips and repairing heavy equipment in the Pacific Ocean.
These veterans deserve our undying thanks – on Memorial Day, on Flag Day and on the 4th of July. (And the other 362 days of the year as well.)
We face uncertainty each day, as we head to work, as we listen to the news or the stock market report. We hear good economic news one day, then tough news the next. We see our troops pulling out of the Middle East, then hear a horror story of an isolated shooting in a school or shopping mall.
Each day ahead generates fear, uncertainty and trepidation along with hope and opportunity. We can’t predict the future, the next Sept. 11 or Sandy Hook, or the life span of our parents.
But we can celebrate Flag Day. Fly your flag, raise a toast to my father and every man and woman like him.
Cheers to June 14, a day worth celebrating.
Contact Sun Newspapers Executive Editor Peggy Bakken at firstname.lastname@example.org