Because my father was a veteran of WWII, his burial included a military honor guard and the presentation of a flag which had been draped on his casket. My sisters decided that I should receive the flag, and so I watched as the military personnel folded the flag with great care and handed it to me with the usual words, "From a grateful nation."
In many ways the gift of the flag is appropriate, and not just because Dad was a veteran. I don't know anyone who took more pride in flying the American flag than he did. Except in the most inclement weather, Dad always flew a flag at his home. He was proud to be an American, proud of his service to the country, and proud of the religious freedom the flag represents.
The only negative comment I ever heard from Dad about the American flag was his unhappiness with the many, many people who put up flags after 9/11. Dad said something like, "Where were those people before 9/11?" I remember thinking about the term "sunshine patriots" to describe people who are only proud of their country when it is the popular thing to do. I think Dad had a good point about that.
So now I have Dad's flag on display in my home office, along with a framed copy of his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. I find myself wondering what is the best way to display those items and to honor Dad?
Perhaps the best way we can honor any of the veterans (and their families) is by remembering. That is what I did on Memorial Day. I remembered, and I gave thanks. I hope you did, too.