In honor of Army Specialist Joseph Alan Kennedy, Governor Mark Dayton has ordered all U.S. flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in Minnesota from sunrise until sunset on Thursday, April 28, 2011, the day of his interment. Kennedy, a native of Inver Grove Heights, was killed in combat in Afghanistan on April 15, 2011. He graduated from Simley High School in 2004, and was a member of the U.S. Army Company D, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, based out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.
33 days from now is Memorial Day, the one day set aside by our country to honor all those who gave their last full measure of devotion to the United States. Although many people tend to think of Memorial Day as just another three day weekend, it is your chance to show that we will never forget those who gave everything for our freedom. It was first celebrated in 1868 with the placement of flowers at the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in the newly opened Arlington ceremony. After World War One it became a national day of remembrance, and was declared a federal holiday in 1971.
This year will be especially bittersweet, as hundreds of Minnesota National Guardsmen from across Minnesota will mark Memorial Day with farewell ceremonies before they leave for a yearlong deployment to Iraq and Kuwait.
Please honor Specialist Kennedy tomorrow by lowering your flag at home to half staff and/or asking your employer to do the same. Please honor all of our brave warriors on Memorial Day by making plans now to attend a parade or ceremony, visit a veteran's memorial, or even just explaining to your children the reason behind the holiday.