FLORENCE, S.C. – Brig. Gen. Jeff Jones, the deputy adjutant general of the S.C. National Guard, spoke Monday to the Florence Rotary Club about the importance of Memorial Day, which will be observed Monday.
He said there are three ways to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
He called them the three R’s: recognition, remembrance and responsibility.
Jones said we must recognize all who stand across the world to defend our country.
"They are the best trained forces in the world,” he said.
Memorial Day is a time to recognize our veterans who did make it back from service and to thank them. He said they served for love of America.
He recalled one incident when he was returning to the United States after serving abroad when he was recognized. He said he was met as he got off the plane by three veterans, one holding out a cup of coffee, one a sandwich and the other, seated in a wheel chair, stood and saluted.
He said veterans come home and perpetuate patriotism and citizenship.
“No city perpetuates patriotism more than Florence,” he said.
He encouraged Rotarians to perpetuate patriotism wherever possible.
Jones said remember those who didn’t make it home and those who are struggling to make it home, those who physically and mentally are struggling.
“Help them get all the way home,” he said.
Jones said remember the Prisoners of War, remember the contributions of women in the past, remember the contributions of African-Americans and remember Gold Star mothers. These are mothers who have lost a child in service to their country. He said to take time to visit these mothers.
He said to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. He told of a young man who was on his way home from service. There were two helicopters heading to an airport. The young man was headed for the first helicopter when he traded places with another soldier who was going home for the birth of his child. He got on the second helicopter; it was shot down, and he never made it home.
Jones told the group not to make false assumptions about the young people of today. “Keep the faith,” he said.
He said the future of America relies on the young men and women.
Jones said the responsibility for teaching these young people about patriotism rest on the shoulders of veterans, because the young people don’t have anyone at home to tell them the story.
He said patriotism is not an inborn trait but something we learn from others.
He said fly that flag,
“The flag will always protect you,” he said.