By Assemblyman Will Barclay
At the end of session both the Assembly and Senate unanimously voted to enact the Lt. Col. Todd Clark Memorial Flag Presentment Program.
Lt. Col. Clark was recently killed on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. A 17-year veteran of the United States Army, Clark was a Purple Heart recipient and sadly, was killed after confronting a terrorist threat to his unit.
Friends and relatives admired Clark’s commitment to public service, his family, and his community.
Lt. Col. Clark’s story is the story of a true American patriot. My colleagues and I were honored to vote for a bill that memorializes both Lt. Col. Clark, all fallen service members, and the sacrifices made by these heroes and their families.
The Lt. Col. Todd Clark Memorial Flag Presentment Program will ensure that flags flown at half-mast in recognition of a soldier, sailor or marine are presented to the service member’s surviving kin at no cost to these families.
As the legislation reads, “This offering, which has no cost to the state, would provide a significant demonstration of public respect and appreciation, that any such sacrificing veteran, and their surviving family, deserves.”
Both a U.S. and State of New York Flag would be offered to the surviving family.
Solemnly preserving a flag flown for a fallen hero and presenting it to that hero’s family – rather than continuing the current practice of simply retiring the flag after it flies – is only a small expression of our gratitude.
No honor, eulogy, service and certainly no flag will alleviate the pain felt by those grieving a fallen loved one.
However, my hope is that families of fallen service members will take solace in knowing that our state paid tribute to their loved one as the heroes and patriots these individuals truly are.
As we gather to celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends, it is our duty as citizens to pay homage to those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom.
Lt. Col. Clark was one of those men, and I am proud that my colleagues and I honored Lt. Col. Clark with a program in his name that ensures fellow fallen heroes will receive the honor their sacrifice embodies.
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