In answer to Gary Vickers response to my letter: Nowhere in the letter did I state that the VFW or members thereof were unpatriotic as you accused. Furthermore, the flag at the cemetery was at full staff that morning when I went to honor my family members buried there. The proper flag etiquette is for it to be flown at half-staff the day of, not just before the start of a ceremony. As for seeing a wrong and not doing anything to fix it when I wrote the letter, I was “fixing it” by bringing it to the attention of those responsible. The VFW is a great organization, as is the American Legion and many other service organizations, but it would have been unjust of me to mention all others who failed and omit any one. Displaying our flag is a commitment, just like owning a pet. If you are not willing to feed it every day, you shouldn’t own it. If you aren’t willing to observe proper flag etiquette, you don’t deserve to fly it.

I wrote the letter to try to “wake up “ those who “fly” the flag and only take it down to replace it when it wears out, I decided to do this after driving to town to lower the flag at the First Baptist Church at about 6 a.m. I noticed the officers at the police station had just lowered theirs at that time I went to McDonald’s for coffee and pointed out that theirs needed to be lowered at which time they immediately did. (Righted that wrong) Then I went to Community Springs to visit my brother there, I lowered their flag for them. (Another wrong, righted) I then went back home, picked up my wife to visit the cemetery and again noticed the flag behind the donation site. I didn’t right that wrong, I try to limit righted wrongs to just two a day. The other flags, well technically it would be trespassing and possibly even get me accused of attempted theft.

To Doyle Beckman, my sincere apologies to you and the VFW. I meant no disrespect to you or the VFW in the letter. I was ignorant of the fact that you also do a Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery, and the VFW funeral detail is exemplary. However, the flag was still at full staff when I visited. As to the Memorial Day and Veterans Day, we both are partly right and wrong. Upon further research, I found that Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day,” a day set forth to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War Veterans, later to become Memorial Day, a day to honor all fallen veterans. Veterans Day was initially known as Armistice Day, the day that hostilities ended concluding WWI. It has now been dedicated as a day to honor all veterans both living and dead. Mea Culpa.

To Lynda Bishop, at no time did I indicate that the VFW failed to meet my or any standards in anything other than flag etiquette. I do agree with you that most of the community does need to brush up on the responsibilities involved when displaying our nation’s flag, and that was pretty much the purpose of the letter. In response to your question and that of the others, no I am not currently a member of any organization in the community. I didn’t know that it was a requirement to “belong” to some group, club or organization in order to help someone. When I returned to the U.S. after Desert Storm in 1991, the local post gave me a year’s membership and my wife a year membership in the auxiliary. We were still living at FLW, but the few times that I attended a meeting, I was treated like an outsider by the members and made to feel unwelcome, that is not the only reason that I did not renew my membership. My wife and I and per parents attended a ham and Bean fundraiser at the post on a Bingo night. Two auxiliary members belittled my wife for not paying her dues and told all of us that we had to hurry up and eat because people wanted to sit in their spot for bingo. I didn’t preach any protocol to anyone in my letter, I just pointed out a failing. If it is embarrassing, then so be it. If it was hurtful, then my apologies to those hurt. If it was offensive, then that is just too bad.

Evidently, the letter(s) did wake up the community. When I drove through town on Monday evening, I found all the flags at half-staff except Methodist Church, American Legion and again the VFW.

In conclusion, I try to live and serve my community in the spirit of Jerry Clower, a famous Christian comedian. He believed that “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” He tore out the back pages of his Bible, where he had documented all his ”good” works as a Christian. He stated that St. Peter had them on record and that was good enough for him. Again, no I am not a member of any organization, and I owe no one an accounting of any work, good or bad, that I do. It is being accounted for by the only One that matters.

Les Ray, SFC Ret.

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