~ Submitted by OC OConnor, Veteran, USAF
Drivers leaned on their horns, passengers waved with gratitude, and many onlookers respectfully saluted as they passed the Peacefully Patriotic Support event on Veteran’s Memorial Park last Saturday, September 4th, 2021.
That sky blue sunny morning, about a dozen participants carried the US Flag, sang patriotic songs, learned the back story of Francis Scott Key’s encounter on a British frigate, and invoked the blessings of The Almighty to continue for our great country. Yet, as a force multiplier, our collective patriotism was equivalent to having a hundred standing tall and proud supporting our 100% volunteer force of men and women in the US Armed Forces.
Over the past 20 years, many thousands of patriotic men and women have volunteered to serve to protect the freedoms and liberties we take for granted. All too many gave their lives. Each of the volunteers stepped up to heed our country’s call. Each and every one of them gave something; each left a part of themselves in Iraq or Afghanistan, including the thirteen members of our military recently killed at Kabul Airport.
This event was held exactly one week before the 20th year mark when terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jets crashing them into the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon, and a field in PA. This coordinated attack on US soil has changed our lives forever. That devastation created an impetus for our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guardsmen to execute their patriotic duty. There are hundreds of thousands who still serve in the military. The Peacefully Patriotic event in Bedford explicitly supported those who served and are still serving. We can never forget them, all the first responders, and those victims on 9/11.
Somewhere along our past twenty-year journey, the narrative seems to have changed. Our first responders no longer receive the same level of respect and gratitude. Evident of the high toll paid by these heroes, active military and Veterans take their own lives to an unacceptable average of 22 per day. May we all reflect on how we felt on September 12th, when heroes were appreciated, and the whole country stood in solidarity – I am in search of that day. Let us rediscover the commonalities we still hold dear and relinquish an all too prevalent battle to divide or separate us from each other. United we (should) stand… as we stood on the 4th of September to support those who acted in the spirit of the 12th twenty years ago to the present. Sincerest admiration to our 100% volunteer Armed Forces.