Opinion: Welcoming summer

The official first day of summer, the Summer Equinox is June 21st. However, in the USA, conventional wisdom says Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season.


Graduations have begun and the end of the MUSD school year is June 11. COVID-19 has made for a challenging 2020-2021 for students and teachers alike. Most on-site classes resumed on a limited basis. How the last year’s online learning has affected the education process is yet to be fully assessed.


Moving forward, this Memorial Day weekend is a time for reflection and remembrance of the brave men and women who lost their lives defending the freedom and way of life of America.


On Monday at 11 a.m. in Courthouse Park the local VFW and American Legion posts will hold services at the war memorial adjacent to the Madera County Museum. Assisted by Boy Scout Troops 116 and 117 along with Cub Scout Packs 116 and 117 there will be music, speeches and a 21-Gun Salute.


Elsewhere in this edition is a complete schedule of services in Madera. These include brief ceremonies at Arbor Vitae and Calvary cemeteries and at Cedar Creek senior living center.


The centerpiece of all these services is the Avenue of Flags composed of the burial flags from local veterans and donated by their families. Celebrations such as this were scaled back or cancelled all together last year.


Nothing drives home the sense of a veteran’s sacrifice as hard as being handed the American flag from the gloved hands of an active-duty service person. He or she and their fellow soldiers are an impressive sight when they remove the flag from the veteran’s casket and fold it in the traditional 13-fold triangle.


Each fold has a sacred meaning, according to Military.com:


“The flag-folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our great country was originally founded.

“The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.


“The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.


“The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.


“The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is Him we turn to in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.


“The fifth fold is a tribute to our country. In the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”


“The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


“The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.


“The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.


“The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood. It has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that has molded the character of the men and women who have made this country great.


“The 10th fold is a tribute to father, who has also given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.


“The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


“The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity, and glorifies God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.


“The 13th and last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”


Twice, once for my father Ralph Hill, and once for my brother Rocky, I was presented with these sacred mementos of their brave service in the face of the enemy. Daddy served in the Navy in World War II and Rocky in the Army in Vietnam.

Many people will use this weekend to fire up the family barbecue grill and gather with loved ones after a year or more of isolation and sheltering in place.


The availability of COVID-19 vaccinations is slowly making get-togethers safer even though masks and social distancing has not quite disappeared from the landscape.


Face masks have been prevalent in other countries for many years. Seeing those worn, especially in Asia, has made me thankful that in our country those requirements were deemed unnecessary. In my arrogance I never thought I’d see a time when the public in this country would be adding face masks in their daily wardrobe.


I am optimistic that this phase in the fight against COVID-19 may soon be over. Thinking about it I wonder if going forward people might choose to wear masks during the cold and flu season.


This year’s flu shots are not yet ready for distribution. A visit to my doctor’s office this week revealed that while the office had flu shots, they were last season’s strain and I had that inoculation in the fall. But since I was there, I got a pneumonia shot just as a precaution.


Now is the time to fly the Old Glory as a reminder of the privilege that is, being an American. Using proper lighting the flag can be flown, 24-7, year-round. If not, the holidays to fly the flag included, Memorial Day on Monday, Flag Day on June 14, Independence Day, July 4 and 5, Labor Day, September 6, Columbus Day, October 11, Veterans Day, November 11 and Thanksgiving, November 25. Fly your flag between sunrise and sunset.


Have a safe and blessed weekend. Please don’t drink or get high and then try to drive.


Long days and pleasant nights have a blessed weekend.


• • •


Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.