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  • Friday, May 22, 2020

    An Unusual Time, But Legionnaires Still Remember

    Message from Commander MikeMike McDermott

    We are in an unusual time this Memorial Day as we remember our fallen service men and women.

    Most of our parades and outdoor activities have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, some of us are visiting graves in person while other participate virtually.

    We also honor those who succumbed to COVID-19 – especially older veterans who survived the battlefield only to be waylaid by a virus.

    For example: Because of the efforts of Department of New York legionnaires, those veterans who died at New York City’s Javits New York Medical Station received a U.S. flag for their casket, to go along with proper military honors performed by the National Guard during the transfer of remains.

    When a veteran passed away on April 19, Army National Guard Sgt. Major Bob Jenks –a combat veteran and a member of American Legion Post 178 in Millerton, NY – prepared for the fact there would be a need to provide proper military honors.

    An honor guard was arranged for the transfer, but a casket flag was needed. Bob reached out to former Post 178 and Duchess County Commander Al Andrews. Within 12 hours, 15 5’x8’ U.S. flags were delivered to Javits for the initial transfer of remains and any to happen going forward.

    Al said assisting with the flag request was an easy decision. “If it’s for the veterans, we’re pretty much doing whatever we can to help meet a need. The support, although unique in this pandemic response, is exactly what The American Legion is intended for.”

    Well said, Al !

    That’s a perfect example of how the Legionnaires go out of their way to remember and honor those who have gone before us – even in a pandemic.

    One final thought. I like our national commander’s suggestion to light red, white and blue candles at dusk on Memorial Day. Here’s how Commander Bill Oxford explains it:

    I’m calling on the American Legion Family to encourage communities far and wide to pay tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes at dusk May 25, Memorial Day, by lighting candles of honor and placing them on front porches. Such a display will remind everyone that our resolve to honor those who served before us will continue even as social-distancing measures limit our ability to perform traditional Memorial Day remembrances… Color options for consideration could include:
    — A red candle to remember the blood shed in battle for the protection of our freedoms.
    — A white candle to keep our POWs/MIAs ever in our thoughts and prayers as we await their return home
    — A blue candle to salute the memories of those who made it home but are no longer with us.

    God bless you all for what you do for veterans.

    — Commander Michael McDermott
    Department of New York