This picture REALLY just kicks my butt.
This is a lot to ask of someone...
and yet they do it.
I was not aware of how the Vietnam era vets were treated
until they spoke of the contrast at the end of the 1st Gulf War.
It's still pretty hard for me to grasp...and it's disgusting.
I have only ever known this...
soldiers being thanked for VOLUNTEERING to do something
that many are all too ready to share their opinion about...but
never actually have to dirty their hands in its reality.
"Patriotism is not is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but
the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." A.S.
What also blows my mind, is that the war protesters of the past
gave birth to the Gen X-ers...who were supposed to be without
foundation...rudderless and indulged.
Amazingly, they are our defense today. Thank God for them!
They were able to see passed the faults that their parents
focused in on...and saw that this county is not only one that
people die trying to get into...but it's worth dying for.
There is no way we can thank them enough for their service.
Or their sacrifice.
And the ones who wait for them.
Talk about sacrifice.
And it all comes at a price.
But it's because of them that have the freedom to share are opinions,
one side or the other...
and that alone deserves all the respect we can muster!
GOD BLESS ALL YOU VETS AND YOUR FAMILIES!!!!
Where would we be without you?
Here's a quick read that will bring a tear to your eye and joy to your heart!
Retired Marine Ernie Napper adds life to Disneyland’s flag retreat
After Disneyland closes for the night, the security officer stands alone under the Main Street flagpole getting ready to go home. He looks up at the light still burning in the apartment window above the firehouse, and tips his hat.
“Goodnight, Mr. Disney,” Ernie Napper says to himself. “The flag retreat ceremony was beautiful again tonight, sir. Big crowd with lots of kids and old veterans. You would have loved it, sir.”
The 63-year-old retired Marine imagines Disney, who died in 1966, standing there inside his private apartment where he spent many days and nights staring out that window at the crowds walking into his fantasy kingdom.
He sees the boss looking back at him and waving, as if to say ‘Good night, Ernie, go home and get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.’
“I see him in my mind as clear as day,” Ernie says, getting ready for another Veterans Day. “Mr. Disney started the flag retreat ceremony in 1955. He’d stand at that window at sunset and watch the security officers bring the flag down and fold it up.
“Mr. Disney was a real patriot, same as me. That’s why I love working here so much. You know how they call it the happiest place on earth? Well, it is for me.”
Sweetheart of a guy, Ernie. I met him a few years back when he was visiting St. Martin’s School in Canoga Park to talk to the kids on Veterans Day. He stood on that stage looking razor sharp in his Marine Corps dress uniform — trim and fit, like he could still take that hill if ordered. Sir.
Ernie spent 21 years, 6 months, and 3 days in the Marine Corp — from Vietnam to the Gulf War. When he retired as a gunnery sergeant he came straight here — the happiest place on earth — to work as a security officer on the swing shift from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
He’s still working the swing shift 21 years later. Still taking the flag down five nights a week at sunset. He’ll be doing it until he physically can’t do it anymore. But don’t hold your breath, he says.
“Ernie exemplifies patriotism,” says Jon Storbeck, vice president of Disneyland Park. “He recently received the highest honor our cast members can achieve, the Walt Disney Legacy Award, for consistently inspiring others.”
Disney had already been gone 26 years before Ernie arrived in 1992. There were many nights in those early years when Ernie thought the flag retreat ceremony might go with him.
“Few guests seemed to be interested in what was going on,” he says. “Hardly anyone was there when we took the flag down for the night. It didn’t seem important to anybody, but it was important to me. And I know it was important to Mr. Disney, too.”
What would the boss think now staring down from his apartment window at the sparse turnout, Ernie wondered? He wouldn’t like what he was seeing, that’s for sure. Just a few people standing around a boom box playing the National Anthem.
There were more people over at lost and found.
But how do you get paying customers off the rides and out of the shows to spend 20 minutes watching a flag come down a pole? That’s not why people take their kids to Disneyland.
That’s when Ernie got an idea that would have made Walt Disney proud — maybe even earned him a nice raise. The security officer started talking to Mickey and Minnie — to Cinderella and Snow White — to Alice in Wonderland and Donald Duck when he was making his rounds.
He talked to all the Disneyland cast members in costumes, asking them to please stop by the flagpole at sunset, and bring the kids and their parents with them.
Well you know what happened next. The flag retreat ceremony became an E ticket. From Adventureland to Fantasyland — from Tomorrowland to Frontierland — kids began lining up behind their favorite characters and marching to the Main Street flagpole at sunset with their parents and grandparents in tow.
Before long the boom box was replaced by the Main Street Band and Dapper Dans playing and singing patriotic songs to crowds lined up three deep to see the nightly flag retreat.
“When I look into that crowd now I see a lot of veterans saluting, and kids and their parents with their hand over their heart,” Ernie says. “I see some tears and a lot of pride on faces, too.”
After the 20-minute ceremony is over, families head back to the rides and attractions while Ernie starts making his rounds through the park to make sure everything is okay in the happiest place on earth.
When his shift is over and it’s time to go home, he’ll stop by the flagpole to look up at the only window still lit on the Main Street Square. He’ll pay his respects to the man standing beside the lamp that never gets turned off.
“Good night, Mr. Disney,” the security officer will say to himself. “See you tomorrow.”
Dennis McCarthy’s column appears on Friday. For comments or story ideas, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org