As the United States involvement in Afghanistan winds down, and in the aftermath of the protracted occupation of Iraq, it is as meaningful as ever for Americans to reflect on the contributions of those who wear this country’s uniforms. Monday’s East Hampton parade will stop traffic on Main Street for a brief time, the temporary silence a tribute in a small way to those who never made it home. This year, too, we will think of three men, two who were killed in combat and one who, though not veteran, touched the lives of many who were.
The path toward a Medal of Honor for Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter of Sag Harbor and Shelter Island, and a fellow marine, Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale of Virginia, who died defending a post in Ramadi, Iraq, in April 2008, remains to be completed. Representative Tim Bishop has put forward a bill in Congress that would honor them for stopping a truck bomb outside Joint Security Station Nasser, saving an estimated 50 marines and 100 Iraqis. It now rests with the House Armed Services Committee. We, like those in the men’s families and many who knew them, hope that the overdue review comes soon and that the bill advances.
The other person brought to mind this Memorial Day is Chris Cosich, a competitive bodybuilder and personal trainer who founded Honor Flight Long Island, which takes World War II veterans to Washington to visit the military memorials. Over the roughly eight years the organization has existed, it has transported, free of charge, some 1,000 vets to the capital, many for the first time. As the Greatest Generation ages and rapidly declines in number, it is a race against time. Mr. Cosich died of suicide in April, but Honor Flight goes on.
The South Fork should be proud to have counted such men as Jordan Haerter and Chris Cosich among its residents as well as the marine from Virginia and the many men and women who have served or are serving today in this country’s armed forces. Monday may be the only official day of the year to memorialize those who are gone, but recognition of what they did for others should be eternal.