“When it came time to begin the procession, I touched the flag for the first time and felt a physical sensation unlike anything I had ever experienced. If it’s possible to feel your soul being touched then that is what I felt. As we carried the flag out before the capacity crowd and a worldwide television audience, the silence was deafening. I’ve never before heard such stillness. I was some place emotionally I had never been before; some place spiritually I didn’t know existed ... .
“The eight of us stood there holding the World Trade Center flag, tears streaming down our faces. The national anthem of the United States rang out like never before. As the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ drew to a close, a gust of wind lifted the flag from beneath, and I struggled to maintain my grip. It was as if the spirits of all the victims of 9/11 were saying to the world, ‘We are not defeated.’ It was as though they were saying to us: ‘You are ready. Go forth and show the world what you have to offer.’”
—Excerpts from the prelude to Derek Parra’s book, “Reflections in the Ice: Inside the Heart and Mind of an Olympic Champion,” as he described his experience carrying the World Trade Center flag into the Opening Ceremonies at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
I was recently reminded of this moving experience as I was visiting with my friend, two-time Olympic medalist Derek Parra. I felt the same when I watched the American flag raised and our anthem played during the Games in Rio.
Every time I rise to salute our flag and sing our anthem, I am also reminded of the service and sacrifice of those who serve (and have served) in our armed forces. While our gratitude and love can in no way equal the magnitude of their sacrifice, we can honor their service by remembering and acknowledging their contribution.
Across its various divisions, Zions Bank currently employs approximately 50 guardsmen and reservists, representing all four branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines). In Utah and Idaho, we also employ around 100 veterans, again representing all military branches.
For nine of the last 10 years, we had a member of the Zions Bank family (employee or spouse of an employee) deployed in active duty. In some cases, we had multiple employees engaged in active duty at the same time.
We currently have two employees deployed. One, a bank compliance officer, is an Air Force Reservist serving in the Middle East since early this year. Her husband is also an employee of the bank and a member of the Air Force Reserves. They have two young boys. The other, also a bank compliance officer, is on his way to Kosovo for several months.
Last fall, another of our employees, an information reporting specialist, left her infant daughter for her second tour to Afghanistan with the Air Force Reserves. She returned several weeks ago.
The Honorable Melvin Laird stated: “Our servicemen and women shoulder the burden of defense as one of the responsibilities of citizenship in this free country. Having participated in protecting our rights and having met oppression on the battlegrounds of the world, they are able to appreciate and savor the blessings of citizenship in the country they serve.”
To the men, women and families who serve our great nation, thank you for your commitment, dedication and sacrifice.
In this month’s issue of Community, Jenny Willden explores a number of military museums here in our own backyards, each committed to preserving and exploring the history of our military, while saluting the heroism and honoring the sacrifice of those who have served.
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