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Guest column: Remember freedoms on Patriot Day

by Submitted Jane Montaney
| August 26, 2020 11:48 PM

On Dec. 18, 2001, Congress passed Public Law No. 107-89 designating Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day.” The American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 28, received some suggestions from its national leadership on celebrating Patriot Day and ALA Unit 28 coordinated its first ceremony for this occasion on Sept. 11, 2002. With the help of some Legionnaires of Post 28, we’ve strived every year since to ensure we honor those who sacrifice for us. We owe these heroes, not just those who gave of themselves on Sept. 11, 2001, but those who’ve given throughout our history and those still giving today, a vow never to forget their sacrifices.

Patriot Day should be a day of remembrance and honoring those who, along with their families, give of themselves 24/7, being on the alert to protect and serve. The men and women of our military, as well as those we call “first responders” (ambulance, fire, and law enforcement) understand our precious freedoms come at a very high price, yet they are willing to pay it. We, as a people, should never take these sacrifices for granted.

Those of us living in this great country, the United States of America, need to do a better job in recognizing and remembering our freedoms. For example, a few years back the title for the ALA Americanism Essay Contest was “What does freedom mean to me.” One of the essays we received from a young student said freedom meant she could pray to God without making sure the black curtains in their home were closed first and whispering.

Another student considered being able to go to school a freedom. True, both these students were immigrants to the U.S., but what about the youngster who thought his freedom was given to his family by the firemen who saved their house from burning down.

How many people realize our military and first responders live every minute of every day on alert because they could get called in to save and/or protect someone? All of these heroes sacrifice for our freedoms and our safety. Let us not forget the families of these heroes, for they also do without and live with the thought that their loved ones could be called away at any moment. We owe them all.

With all the ramifications of COVID-19, we are unable to conduct a ceremony safely this year; however, we wish to give thanks for all those who have provided and are providing for our health, safety, and freedom. As a nation united, we must remain committed to supporting the men and women of our emergency services and armed forces as they serve us all with courage and honor.

I encourage others to join in showing appreciation by sending thank you cards, maybe even a bouquet of flowers or balloons. Businesses could put up “thank you” signs in business windows and boards. Signs could also be put up in yards – surely if we have room for politician signs, we have room to put up a sign for those who’ve given us the right to vote. Another way we can show appreciation, in my opinion, is to try harder to follow the health directives issued in this time of COVID-19: mask up and wash up. Their jobs are hard enough without the hazards of this virus. Let’s all work together to beat it.

Ambulance, medical personnel, fire, police, sheriff’s office, state patrol and our military: we owe them a vow to never forget their sacrifice and to strive harder to not take our freedoms for granted.

Jane Montaney is the Unit 28 Americanism chairman for the American Legion Auxiliary, Ephrata.