Pausing to Honor the Fallen: What We Can Learn from “America’s Team”

By Town Supervisor George Hoehmann

There is a wonderful quote that epitomizes Memorial Day’s true meaning: honoring the sacrifice of those who died in war. I think of it often as we approach our annual holiday that commemorates the fallen. “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” This anonymous quote gives voice to the true meaning of sacrifice that we commemorate this coming weekend. Unfortunately, Memorial Day has all too often become more about barbecues, sales, going to the beach or opening the pool rather than what it truly supposed to be about: honoring the fallen. 

There are a number of reasons why we should pause this weekend and remember. In fact, there are 1,354,664 reasons we need to do so. That is the number of soldiers that have died in all of the conflicts and wars since the founding of our nation. It is an astounding number and absolutely shocking in scope. We should try and place that number into context. Think, if you will of the City of Dallas. Admittedly as a New York football fan I do not care for the Dallas Cowboys, yet Dallas helps put that number in perspective. First, according to the 2020 census, Dallas has 1,343,554 people and is the city closest in size to that number of fallen soldiers. Imagine if you will if the City of Dallas did not exist? How different would our world be? Now think of all of those families who lost a loved one and how different their lives may have been, and indeed how different the world is due to their loss. One life lost is one too many—1,254,664 is an ocean of tears and an entirely different world. The second way Dallas helps us to contextualize the fallen is the saying associated with the Cowboys franchise being dubbed as “America’s Team”. Well I and a host of other New York football fans would disagree. However, for the most obvious of reasons it is clear that those who deserve the real honor are not the NFL team called the Dallas Cowboys, but rather those who are truly members of America’s team are the fallen soldiers of America’s wars. 

So this weekend, I hope that you spend some time doing what you enjoy. I hope you have or attend a barbeque, shop and take advantage of the sales and perhaps go to the beach or a pool. But I also hope that you and your family have the opportunity to watch the flag fly in the breeze, either at a parade or a ceremony. When you do, please think of the City of Dallas and the quote that the reason the flag flies is because of the last breath of 1,354,664 soldiers who died so that we might live and have freedom. This weekend we have numerous ceremonies listed below. Please take some time and attend one and be thankful for those who paid the ultimate price to secure freedom and liberty in our country.

Friday:

11:00AM- Town of Clarkstown Senior Citizen Memorial Day Ceremony at Street Community Center located at 31 Zukor Road, New City, New York 10954 also via Town Facebook live.

Saturday:

10:30AM- Congers Veterans Memorial Association Parade Kings Highway to Lake Road ceremony and scholarship awards in front of the VMA immediately following

Sunday:

12:00PM Rockland County Veterans Joint Coordinating Council Memorial Day Ceremony at Frederick Loescher Cemetery 220 Brick Church Road, Spring Valley, New York 10977. 

Korean War Veterans Memorial Day Ceremony will take place immediately following the ceremony at Loescher at the Gary Onderdonk Cemetery on the RCC campus located at 145 Viola Road Suffern, New York 10901.  

11:30PM Watch Fires conducted by the Rockland County Veterans Joint Coordinating Council. The watch fires will be lit at 11:30pm May 29 and burn for 24 hours at four locations:

• Bowline Point Park in Haverstraw

• Eugene Levy Memorial Park on Route 45 in Pomona

• The top of Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg

• The east end of the Piermont Pier.

Anyone wishing to retire flags can do so at any of the locations. A ceremony will be held at each of the four locations.

Monday:

10:00AM- Memorial Day Ceremony, conducted by the Friends of Mount Moor Cemetery at Mount Moor Cemetery located at the Palisades Center Mall, Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack, New York 10994.

11:00AM- William V DeBevoise Jr, American Legion Memorial Day Ceremony located outside the legion hall at 65 American Legion Way New City, New York 10956.

12:00PM- Jewish War Veterans Memorial Day Ceremony to occur in Nanuet at the Veterans Monument adjacent to the train station on Prospect Street, Nanuet.

1:00PM- American Legion Mascarella Post #199 Memorial Day Ceremony at Memorial Park, Main Street in Spring Valley