I am the proud mother of two fine sons, one a 2nd lieutenant with the United States Army and the second, a lance corporal with the United States Marine Corps. Being the mother of sons and daughters in active duty with the United States military leaves us ''Blue Star Mothers'' holding constant thoughts of our children closely in our hearts and looking for ways to daily demonstrate our esteem for these brave young men and women. Sometimes it might be a pin on our lapel or a bumper sticker on our car, but there is sure to be at least one flag flying from our front porches or in our front yard.
In our case, my husband, an army veteran who served in Vietnam, and I chose to have a pole installed in our front yard with an American, United States Army and United States Marine Corps flag. These flags wave grandly as a daily reminder of our freedoms being ever secured by our military and are illuminated at night by a light holding constant vigil over our home even as our hearts hold a constant vigil of thoughts and prayers over our brave men and women.
When we contacted the Geer Dunn Company of Jamestown to install our pole, we were impressed by a young man, John Jaroszynski, who with skill and reverence installed the pole, then raised the flag and, without awareness of any audience, ceremoniously saluted it, as he does with every pole he installs. We learned that this gentleman had himself served in the U.S. Army and had lost the majority of his platoon in a military training exercise. Each time he installed a pole and raised the flag, it was with the memory of those close brothers who had paid the ultimate sacrifice. We stood by speechless and teary-eyed to recognize the sacredness of that moment in this veteran's life as he reverently honored his fallen comrades and his country in this private observance. Our pole was given even more significance that day and we wondered how many other flags in Chautauqua County have the distinction of being honored in this way by this gentle hero.
Last week during a wind storm, the cord that held those flags snapped. When we approached Geer Dunn for a remedy, John assured us that he would be happy to make the repair ''on his way home from work,''on his own time. He arrived promptly as planned, accompanied by his own 9-year old son, Jedd. Together they worked, Dad no doubt reliving and reconciling his memories from the Army and son learning a little of what it means to work, honor, cherish and revere the greatest symbol of what still remains the greatest nation in this world.
When Dad and son finished the task, Dad called his son to arms and both saluted the flags that flew freely and proudly in the afternoon sun. Mission accomplished. Lessons learned ... the torch being passed. On this anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, our hearts remain grateful ... lest we forget. May God continue to bless these United States of America.
''It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not th organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.''
(Charles M. Province)
Kathleen Collver and her husband, Stan, are residents of Jamestown.