This Memorial Day is Different for Me

Letter to My Students – Fifth Letter in a Series (Memorial Day 2021)

First, as always and since July 3, 1989 – I love you.  You mean a lot to me.  One of the cool things about being a high school music teacher?  More often than not … MUCH MORE OFTEN (sorry – NOT sorry – for the poor grammar; I am a  music teacher, not an English teacher & writing is a hobby for me, like golf – both hobbies humble me 😊) … the students who are in my music classes choose to be there.  So, any human being who chooses to be with me is a BLESSING / a gift / and I am honored!  One more time… and not the last time … I love you.

My thought for my students today is: please … block the idea that the outside of you or anyone is THE best side of you and the most important side of you!  BLOCK THAT CRAP! 

What is the best side or really … could be the most important side …  YOUR HEART!!  Guard your heart! 

Remember, these “letters” I write to you (my students and others) are letters I can only share outside of the public school classroom in California.  


Seeing our nation fight with itself / implode can be discouraging.  CAN BE discouraging.  In response to the “fighting,” I want to give my students (all people) a realistic message.  Realistic means the thorns are still on the stems of roses.  We can appreciate the roses and be careful of the thorns. 

On July 30, 1945 the USS INDIANPOLIS would be the final United States Ship sunk in World War II.  I strongly encourage you / recommend you visit their website.  The story is very sad and frustrating.

The Executive Officer of the USS INDIANAPOLIS is Commander Joseph Ambrose Flynn.  Commander Flynn was loved by his crew, as well as, highly respected.  How do I know that?  Because, the survivors told me that.  See, I am the grandson of Commander Joseph Ambrose Flynn and in 1995, I represented our family at their fiftieth reunion.  

The stories they shared told of a man who knew how to show love to his crew.  Love was a combination of holding them accountable and at the same time recognizing they are going to be what he (Commander Flynn) taught them to be.  My grandfather was a teacher.  He was a professor at the University of Minnesota.  When World War II was at its height, my grandfather returned to active duty. 

The one story I will briefly share with you is how our grandfather died.  Dr. Haynes, USS INDIANAPOLIS doctor, was at that 1995 reunion.  He sought me out. 

“I want to tell you how much we admired your grandfather.  I want to share with you how he died.  It’s not gruesome.”  I took a breath.  Dr. Haynes told me, “Once your grandfather gave the abandon ship call, which was his duty as the Executive Officer, he went down to the hull of the ship.  Along with several other men, in an attempt to save the ship, your grandfather closed the hull of the ship and died on the ship.  That is who your grandfather is.”

I was and I am taken aback by that story.  I felt so honored to be his grandson – his only grandson. 

In 2017, Commander Flynn’s Great Grandson, Paul J. (PJ) Everts graduated from the University of Idaho as an Ensign!  He is now a Lieutenant (will be in June 2021) and serves our nation on the USS WARRIOR.  Even knowing how his great-grandfather lost his life, our son still joined the Navy.  His mother and I can not be more proud of him. 

Asking for empathy from my students (readers).  If you could see through my “lens,” I hurt to see our nation continue to be under attack from its own citizens.  If not attacked (strong word), at least disrespected by its own citizens!  It pains me to see / hear students at many public schools not say “The Pledge of Allegiance.”  Seeing students ‘protest’ their nation by not standing for the National Anthem hurts me.  Students actually answer NO to the question, “Do think your nation (USA) is a great nation?”  Professional athletes, entertainers, businesses see the money from China being more important than living the principles of our Republic is painful.  Seeing and hearing John Cena “apologize” to the Chinese government for recognizing Taiwan as a country hurt.  Yes.  It hurt.   

You know what else hurts?  The lack of Memorial Day Parades and / or ceremonies.  Therefore, I needed to do my small tribute to those men and women who believed so much in their oath to the constitution, they lost their life in defending this oath: 

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

“Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  Just that phrase alone gives me goosebumps.  In regards to the military, this is where my passion for those who VOLUNTEER to defend our nation.  They didn’t sign up to defend you based on your gender / your ethnicity / your race.  They signed up to defend the freedoms listed in the Constitution of the United States.  The reason you see so much pushback to “Critical Race Theory” is because it is UN-AMERICAN!  What is American is the fact we are treated equally under the law and if you disagree, there is still a way to fight through the system.  

There are many writers / authors who do a wonderful job sharing thoughts I hold dear.  David Barton is someone I am so happy to have recently “connected” with.  Please take the time to read part of this Memorial Day sermon he penned.  It is eloquent and passionate.  You can read the entire sermon at

Another of the forces which fill the atmosphere and the mountains about us is the idea of our nationality. One country, one people, one flag, is our motto. Possibly the thought of secession or disunion has passed forever; we cannot part company without losing strength and influence; we can never sever our Union without becoming a reproach to the world; we cannot multiply flags without national shame and humiliation. That grand old banner, since the day when its first star was attached and all its stripes were bound together, has commanded respect and admiration upon all the waters of the globe. Resplendent and beautiful as the tints of the dawning morning, it has reflected the rays of the rising sun of freedom through all the sky, from the heavens above to the earth beneath. For more than a century it has attracted the weary toilers of the earth. The very thought of it – its name, its magnificent presence – have carried to the minds of millions the ides of liberty: liberty of conscience, liberty of citizenship, liberty of noble manhood; the right to the labor of one’s own hand, to the product of one’s own accumulation, the right of the man to own himself, the right of education for his children, the privileges of equality with other men, and the right of protection against oppression.  (My response:  Hence, on government property (city / state / federal) there should only be three flags:  the United States flag; the state’s flag; and, the city’s flag.  No POW flag.  No rainbow flag.  No flag representing a religion.  No ‘BLM’ flag.  NO!  Each flag represents a specific group of people.  The government property represent all the people.  You may FEEL left out, but that is a feeling you choose … far from the fact.)

In the midst of some great public excitement or fancied peril, we ask, “Is the country really in danger?” Are these popular strikes a menace to our institutions? Do these vast local interests which, in their selfishness rise up in threatening attitudes, mean mischief to the whole fabric? Will a mercenary Congress ever barter our rights away for ambition or lucre [money]? Will the American people ever yield willingly to their own humiliation? We look about us and ask as did the servant of the prophet, “Alas! How shall we do?” But when your eyes shall be opened and we shall behold the horsemen and the chariots of fire – the great innumerable hosts of the skies, hidden from our natural eyes, we will be led to answer, “God is with us, and they that are with us are greater than they that be with them.” We will not fear when we see these unnumbered detachments armed with the potent influences of the great ideas of which I have spoken. When we behold among the standards of that vast gathering the banner of the cross inscribed with Christ’s new commandment and the spirits of our dead pointing to that as the life of our American institutions- when we see our own national flag bearing aloft the motto, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” [Leviticus 25:10] – when we see here the banner of a free ballot, and there the banner of constitutional security, and in the front of that great array a fortress of the graves of those who fought and died for the liberties we enjoy, we need not fear for the future, for God is with us.  (My thoughts:  as I have gotten older (Birthday is January 6, 1966), I have grown closer to God.  I do believe GOD is with us.  Our nation has been through a lot and will go through a lot.  When we place God above our selfish needs, our nation seems to rise above the fray.  Growing closer to God has been a lonely adventure.  Folks have been leaving my side and yes, I have chosen to leave some folks.  In no way do I want to convert anyone.  I would rather just step aside.  The “ladder” is against the correct wall.  We need to return to our Founding Fathers’ security through God!)

Against all these threatening dangers there are safeguards, and we must see to it that they are found and applied… We should have our churches increased a thousand times – have them conducted by a loyal and Godly ministry, and have them supported by an honest and patriotic membership. (My emphasisWe should bring to the work of evangelization an aggressive piety that will pursue sin and vice of every description into every stronghold and give them uncompromising battle at every step. We want the spirit that drove the money changers from the temple, that rebuked sin in high places, and that administered punishment to the wrongdoer without favor; the spirit that, upon the other hand, forgave the repentant sinner and in love invited the weary ones of earth to come to Him and find rest.  (My thought:  hence, GET OUT OF CHINA… NOW!  All of you businesses / entertainers / athletes, you are doing business with a country whose actions are so INHUMANE.  Your choice to do business with CHINA is a travesty!)

And so on this Memorial Day we must not forget the sources from which have come these national blessings. We go back in our history and thank God for the Puritan spirit and for that deliverance from religious oppression which brought to our shores the Mayflower and its heroic company who sought upon our soil freedom to worship God. We are thankful, too, for the prayer and song which hallowed Plymouth – a prayer whose strains still linger upon the New England air and will forever be wafted upon the winds back and forth to the utmost boundaries of our Union.

We are thankful that the spirit which came in the Mayflower still lives. How quickly its influence established peace after the [Civil] War (in which so many of our comrades fell) was over. How it bridged the frightful charms with the olive branch and took back to its forgiving bosom the erring ones, and restored peaceful relations with the discordant states.

This Memorial Day is different for me.  I have reached a point (not the “end-point”) where I ask the question, “Was the pain that my grandmother, aunt and mom endured since the July 30, 1945 killing of my grandfather worth it?”  I hope to live long enough to once again… as I have had many times prior to this year … answer that question with a RESOUNDING “YES!” 

Thank you and God Bless all of you who died in the line of duty to defend the oath you took: 

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

On May 31, 2021 – I will carry our nation’s flag for you Commander Flynn!  I love you!