A Veteran’s Thoughts on Memorial Day, 2021

By Cole Mallard

Though small in size, the American Legion grotto outside McLean High School spans the globe by virtue of five stone plaques which commemorate graduates “Who Have Given Their Lives in the Line of Duty for Our Country” in the War on Terror, the Vietnam War, the Korean Conflict, and World War II.

American Legion Post #270 of McLean, with the McLean/Tysons Rotary Clubs. organizes an annual Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony which attracts roughly 60+ neighbors and friends, including some local officials.

The event is modest — albeit profound, with one or two retired military speakers who take us with them to distant lands and shores, where battles were fought and our young men and women “Bravely Answered the Nation’s Call” and made the ultimate sacrifice. Gazing around the solemn audience, I sense the gratitude of those present for the blessings of living in this great country and a reverence for our military.

About 70 feet away, facing the grotto podium, is the main entrance to McLean High School. I spot some recent graduates in caps and gowns taking photos at the front door under the school’s name. They are joyous and demonstrate pride in reaching this milestone. I sense their happiness.

Then, returning to the ceremony audience, with the exception of one high school-aged student playing taps, I only see five or so young people and children in the crowd. It makes me question if the price paid by former McLean High School students and their families is appreciated.

What are schools doing to instill in our students a love of country and a sense of gratitude to those who gave their lives? From what I’m reading and hearing, there is a serious disconnect, especially with the effort to infuse a Marxist ideology, known as Critical Race Theory, into all aspects of the public school curriculum.

Several parents and groups are taking on public school districts, Fairfax included, to stop this effort.

As a Vietnam Vet, I did not go to war so the communist enemy we fought could infiltrate our school systems; our military and political establishments; and, most frightening of all, our churches. I did not lose my friends and classmates so that our schools and radical groups would turn our children into victims who despise our founding ideals, instead of citizens who feel blessed to call the USA their home.

McLean resident Cole Mallard is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Now retired, Mallard was a producer and reporter at Voice of America. 

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