Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Honor of and In Tribute To

I have three children in the high school.  While that has many implications, it primarily means that I make many trips to the high school each week.  One week, I counted 21 individual round trips to the high school.  If you drive to the schools enough, you start to notice subtle changes.  Since the beginning of the year, I have noticed the flag flying at half-staff almost every time I went to the school. I made a mental note to myself as part of the Facilities Committee to ask Joe Gramando if the flag pole was broken.  I just assumed it was as the flag was flying at half-staff nearly everyday.  When I finally got around to asking Joe if the flag pole was broken, he told me why the flag is flown so often these days at half-staff.

The flag has been flown at half-staff in order to honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country.  Other than federal holidays and federal decrees, the flag is flown at half-staff at the order of the Governor.  Governor Cuomo, in a change from the prior administration, has ordered state government and school flags flown at half-staff in honor of and in tribute to soldiers, either from New York or stationed at a base in New York, who have died in the line of duty.  Unfortunately, there have been many of them lately.  Obviously, one is too many, but there have been more than that.  The Governor's office sends an email to the district to notify us when to fly the flag at half-staff and why.

The emails from Albany include a brief description of the deceased soldier and the action that lead to his or her death.  It is quite sobering to read them.  If you ever want to know the particulars, you can go to the Governor's website or ask me, I now get copied on the emails.

Here is what was written in the email sent to the district on November 28th for flying the flag at half-staff on the 29th of November:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, November 29 in honor of a Fort Drum soldier who died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on November 21.

Private Jackie L. Diener II died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum. Private Diener was from Boyne City, Michigan.

"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Private Diener and I send my deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers," Governor Cuomo said. "We will honor the service of this Fort Drum soldier and we will be forever grateful for his dedication to our nation."

I join with the Governor in mourning the loss of Private Diener and in sending my deepest sympathies to his family, friends and fellow soldiers.

Now, when you drive up to any of the schools in the district and you see that the flag is at half-staff take a moment to remember why it is flown that way, to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices made daily by our soldiers for our country, and to hug your school-aged child who might one day be a United States soldier.

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