In the Danville Elks Flag Day ceremony on Sunday, Brad Becker, Danville American Legion Honor Guard chaplain, noted military people are not the only ones who should be honored as heroes this year.

He said we also should honor those essential workers who are doing their part against the country's latest enemy, COVID-19.

"It is equally important we honor these new citizen-soldiers," Becker told the Memorial Park gathering.

Doctors, nurses and countless others in the medical field, emergency responders such as firefighters, police and paramedics, grocery store workers, utility workers, even those who sell fuel for our vehicles, are certainly essential. 

Imagine daily life without any of those people.

Just as the military soldiers defend us against our enemies to maintain our way of life, these workers help us sustain life. They, too, are heroes, risking their own health to keep us alive and healthy.

Tom Cook, an Elks trustee, said the resurgence of patriotism after 9/11 rekindled respect for the American flag, and the flag reminds us of our heroes.

Those American heroes do what they do for all people, or at least, that's what they should be doing. If they are doing it for all people, they are following what it means to be an American, for that matter, to be human.

They are, in essence, respecting the flag to which we pledge allegiance with such phrases as "United" States of America, "one nation" and "with liberty and justice for all."

We, Americans, are not always perfect when it comes to living those words. When professional football players take a knee during the national anthem, many people see that as disrespect for the flag. Those silent protests, and the recent loud and raucous protests across the country against police brutality and systemic racism, are actually a call, a warning, that not everyone is living up to those words in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

The most recent area protest happened on Saturday. More than 500 people showed up in Lewisburg's Hufnagle Park. There, the president of that borough's council, Luis Medina, stood on the gazebo and told the crowd, "This turnout warms my heart. This is what patriotism looks like. Protesting is the right thing to do."

Indeed, protests and dissent are part of our societal conscience reminding us we are not living up to those words in the pledge.

We cannot be united until there truly is liberty and justice for all.

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