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Editorial: Lowered flags don't just honor Bush

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, 3:09 p.m.
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While the world watches the mournful ballet of saying goodbye to a president, something else has happened farther away than Texas and closer to home than Washington, D.C.

A soldier died in Germany on Sunday. Army Sgt. Jason McClary died after being wounded in an IED explosion Nov. 27 in Afghanistan.

That was the same day that Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin was killed by the same bomb.

McClary was from Export. Elchin was from Hookstown in Beaver County.

They weren’t famous. They weren’t household names. But they were important in a way that the famous and infamous seldom are.

They were men who understood duty and fulfilled it with honor and commitment. They were men who left behind people they loved.

Just like President George H.W. Bush.

All over Pennsylvania, as the nation continues its sorrowful parting with the man who served his country in various capacities for more than 70 years, the flags will fly at half-staff.

It’s the kind of thing that is expected when a statesman dies. It’s the kind of thing that is all but demanded when it was the commander-in-chief.

But the flags will not just be lowered for a president.

The day before Bush died, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the flags to fly low for Elchin. He ordered the same for McClary on Monday. They will remain lowered until they are both buried, and there are no released dates for those services yet.

According to NBC News, while the late president and war hero’s funeral services Thursday and Friday will be affairs of state, the man himself was involved in the planning, and that orchestration involved asking for certain humble gestures. A fighter pilot, he nonetheless didn’t want a “missing man” flyover. He didn’t want “Hail to the Chief” to be played.

Those are the kind of things McClary and Elchin would likely not have as part of their services.

At 24 and 25 respectively, they were both younger than all but one of Bush’s 14 grandchildren. They did not have time to touch as many lives or achieve as many goals. Much of the sadness in their loss is for those things they never got to accomplish.

But what they will share with the former world leader will be the sentiments of sympathy, condolence and appreciation. They will share the gratitude of a nation for unbelievable sacrifice and an unshirked duty.

That is all quietly shown in those stars and stripes standing at the halfway point on flagpoles like a respectfully bowed head.

Even if most people noting the lowered flag don’t realize everyone it was lowered to honor.

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