Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010 (and why I've been silent)

All over the country, small towns and big cities are draped with flags, staging parades, holding solemn ceremonies in honor of Memorial Day. It is a time honored American custom to fly the US flag on holidays, and no day stands more sacred than Memorial Day.

Just not here, in North Bay Village.

Memorial Day, a day set aside in the United States to honor those who died defending our country, is passing unnoted in North Bay Village.

In my walk this morning around Treasure Island at 11 AM, I saw only three houses flying flags. Two were on Hispanola and another on Cutlass. Maybe there were others?

This is sad. Flags are inexpensive, readily available and simple to mount. Whether we were born in this country, naturalized as a citizen or arrived last week, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who died to make this nation possible.

Why I have been silent. Two weeks ago, after a long illness my father died. He died as he lived, with dignity and on his own terms. When it was clear that no medical treatment could work, he simply said, "Let's go home." and in his own place, with all five of his sons present, he let go peacefully on May 14.

If you're lucky, you have a dad that you can look up to and I am very lucky. My father was out of the ordinary. My dad was a poor kid from NYC who entered adulthood in the US Navy during World War 2. He spent a 20 year career in the FBI exposing and bringing to justice politicians and officials who abused the public trust and who robbed the citizens. He then entered a second career leading the fight against Medicaid fraud in New York. My father had no respect for the weasels who would steal from the most vulnerable and who would betray the public trust by abusing their position for personal gain.

His funeral was dignified and honorable.

A week later, my sister-in-law died suddenly and too soon. As an art teacher in a Catholic grammar school, she too left behind a legacy of lives she touched. As a single mother on a Catholic school teacher's salary, she brought up three boys and got them through college and launched them into adulthood.

Christine's career was more humble than my father's, yet I have not been to a wake and a funeral that crowded in my adult life. People she had touched were lined up outside the funeral home in 90 degree heat to pay tribute to her. The church was standing room only. Her sons paid her great tribute and she will be sorely missed.

Tomorrow I will get back to the cesspool of North Bay Village politics but for today, I just want to reflect on the honesty and dignity of those who gave themselves to make this country and world a better place.

Kevin Vericker
May 31, 2010

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