Freedom, Honor, Pride, Sacrifice, Love of Country…….
For many, the flag stirs up many memories, memorials, feelings and emotions. The flag means different things to different people – in different walks of life.
I was asked to speak last week at the Field of Flags Ceremony in Mantorville. The topic – “What does the flag mean to me?”
For me, the flag represents our amazing law enforcement officers who, day and night, work tirelessly to make our communities safer for our friends, our families, and our children. It reminds me of our Dispatchers, the unseen heroes behind the mic, really the backbone of law enforcement. It also reminds me of our many Sheriff’s Posse volunteers who serve side by side with our deputies – serving and protecting.
The flag reminds me of all the law enforcement officers we’ve lost this year killed in the line of duty – As of September 7th, Line of Duty deaths in the United States total 88 for the year. It saddens and humbles me to think about their sacrifice – and it reminds me to do everything I can to help make sure our men and women have all the tools, training, and support to ensure that they stay safe day and night while they work to keep our communities safe.
It reminds me of the four officers we’ve lost in the Line of Duty here in Dodge County in the 162 years since JB Hubbell was appointed as our county’s first Sheriff.
Hayfield City Marshal Oly Havey – End of Watch December 30th 1905 – shot and killed confronting an armed burglar at the Dalen and Alrick Store on Main Street in Hayfield.
Claremont Police Chief Greg Lange – End of Watch July 5th 1988 – shot and killed while trying to save a young lady’s life during a domestic argument in Claremont just a few hundred feet from his home.
Hayfield Police Chief Douglas Claassen – End of Watch March 13th 1999 – died as a result of injuries he suffered during an assault.
Dodge County Sheriff’s Captain Loring Guenther – End of Watch Sept 10, 2013 – died as a result of a heart attack.
Seeing the flag brings me back to the memory of Chief Deputy Mike Leonhardt presenting the flag to Loring’s wife Deb at his funeral.
The flag reminds us of the sacrifices these men made, while also reminding us of the great memories many of us have of them – memories shared by family and friends.
The flag reminds me of Sheriff Bill Weber who blessed me with the opportunity to serve as a new young deputy under him in 2002 – helping me start my journey here with the Sheriff’s Office.
The flag makes me think of the many relatives of mine who served our country proudly in the armed services, like my Uncle PFC Harry Erickson who served as a medic in the bloody Battle of the Bulge on Christmas of 1944.
My Great great Grandfather Ezekiel Rose who was shot and injured serving in the civil war.
My grandfather Emil Asleson who served as a special deputy with the Divide County Sheriff’s Office in North Dakota in the 40’s.
The flag makes me think of my father Bob Rose, who served with the Kasson Police Department from 1968 to 1979, then was hired by Sheriff Ernie Vanderhyde here at the Sheriff’s Office where he continued to serve part-time until he retired in 2000.
The flag reminds me of many amazing people who have influenced me and made my life better.
The flag represents the amazing men and women who serve our community as paramedics or EMTs – some who are paid, many who are volunteers. It reminds me of the 10 paramedics/EMT’s who have died in the line of duty so far this year.
The flag represents the dozens of volunteer fireman in our county that risk their lives and volunteer their time to help protect the citizens of Dodge County. Fireman that VOLUNTEER to risk their lives for us! It represents the 66 fire fighters that have died in the line of duty so far this year in the US.
The flag reminds me of all the brave men and women who have sacrificed both here and abroad serving in our armed forces, many who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice to help keep us free. The flag represents the families of those military heroes; the parents, spouses, and children of those who spent time away from their families risking all to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
The American flag is a symbol not only of hardiness, valor, purity, innocence, vigilance, perseverance and Justice; it is a symbol of freedom. Freedom that has been fought so hard for over decades. Freedom that has cost this country and the families within so much, and yet it’s still a beacon to those wishing they had the freedom that our country has.
We fly this flag proudly outside our offices, military buildings, schools, public institutions, and our homes. It rests against walls and is draped carefully across caskets, honoring those who’ve given their lives defending it. It’s a symbol of freedom, of hope, and of our nation.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to talk to your kids, your grandkids, your family, and your friends about the flag. Talk about what it means to you and what it means to them. Talk to them about always respecting the flag, and remind them of all those who have sacrificed for it and of those who continue to sacrifice for us.
To me the flag represents the very best our country has to offer – those willing to put it all on the line, both here and abroad – to help keep America great, to help keep America safe, and to help keep American Free.
This post was originally published in October 2017 on Sheriff Rose’s blog.