Ken Beaton: The three R’s of sacrifice |

Ken Beaton: The three R’s of sacrifice

Ken Beaton

Alex Trebek reads the answer, “Boalsburg, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1864.”

James Holzhauer hits his buzzer first and asks the question, “Where was the first Remembrance Day?”

“James, you’ve added $2,000, bringing your total to $32,500. We’ll be back for Final Jeopardy after these commercial messages.”

If you never heard of Boalsburg, it’s next to State College, the home of Penn State University, the “Nittany Lions,” a member of the Big Ten Athletic Conference.

In Boalsburg, Emma Hunter’s father was a medical doctor who served in the Union Army during the Civil War treating Union soldiers with yellow fever. Unfortunately, Dr. Hunter contracted yellow fever from one of his patients, died and was buried in 1863 in his hometown. Emma and her good friend, Sophie Keller were teenagers. They had gathered some flowers to decorate Dr. Hunter’s grave.

The two teenage girls were walking to the local cemetery when they met Mrs. Eliza Myers. Mrs. Myers’ son, Amos, was one of the Union Army casualties on July 3, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa. Amos’ remains were returned home and buried in the Union Soldiers section near Dr. Hunter. Emma and Sophie told Mrs. Myers, “We’re going to lay flowers on Dr. Hunter’s grave.”

Mrs. Myers immediately thought of Amos.

“Emma and Sophie, that’s a wonderful idea. May I go to the cemetery with you to lay some flowers on my son’s grave?”

That was the first Remembrance Day, not Charleston, S.C., not Waterloo, N.Y., or any other community in either of the northern or southern states.

Reality is that parents, siblings, spouses and friends are crushed when they receive the news, “We regret to inform you…” How many of you reading this commentary have asked yourself the question, “Did that service person have a child or children?”

The feelings of loss are an afterthought when it comes to a child losing a parent while serving our country. One of my uncles was killed in action in World War II over 75 years ago. I have the picture of me that he carried in his helmet with my mother’s writing on the back. When I reflect about my uncle, I can only imagine the loss a child must experience having no memory of his or her parent.

Remember, the Fallen Patriots Foundation has invested in the child(ren) of a fallen parent serving our country.

“Memorial Day is a time to honor and recognize the sacrifices made by those who have died to protect our freedom. It is crucial to always remember these brave heroes by taking care of the approximate 20,000 children who have been left behind over the last 35 years. Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots) aims to ensure that every such child receives all necessary college funding.”

“Fallen Patriots has been such a blessing to me and my three siblings,” said scholarship recipient Daniel Bertolino.

He was 12 years old when his father, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Bertolino was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Thanks to Fallen Patriots, I was able to graduate from college debt-free, with a job offer in hand. My father having never graduated college himself would be so proud of me. When I lost my father, I gained a new family through Fallen Patriots, and what a blessing they have been to me through tough times,” Daniel said.

“We believe one of the best ways to honor our fallen heroes is to invest in the future of those they loved most — their children,” said David Kim, co-founder and CEO of Fallen Patriots. “A college education is the key to a bright future for any child and the generosity of our supporters is making those hopes and dreams come true.”

“Since 2002, Fallen Patriots has provided over $29 million in total assistance to approximately 1,417 scholars of fallen service members. Fallen Patriots helps bridge a $32,000 funding gap between government assistance programs and the cost of a four-year degree.”

I told my students, “Your education will give you the best return on your investment.”

Reflect, Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend or a barbecue with family and neighbors or the beginning of summer. It is a time to decorate at least one military grave marker, consider how you can serve your country in one of the five military branches or how you can be a big brother/big sister to a child(ren) of a gold star family. Consider how you can positively influence a young life to make our neighborhood, state, nation and planet better educated and more user friendly.

Is your American flag proudly displayed in front of your home this weekend?