Old Glory and flags of 26 of the 168 United Nations-member countries furled in the breeze. Rifles cracked. Taps were sounded, and war dead were honored Friday.
The tributes were given during a pre-Memorial Day ceremony sponsored by the Salt Lake Community College student chapter of United Nations Futurists."A soldier is just a peacekeeper. He doesn't want to go fight. He doesn't want to die. He doesn't want to leave his family, but he can see the greater picture. He knows there is a greater price. And he knows that if his family and his children are going to be raised with ideals and principles (guaranteed by the Constitution) that he must fight, and in many cases he must die," said Timothy M. Burke, senior vice commander, Department of Utah Disabled American Veterans.
Burke, one of several speakers at the outdoor service near the quad fountain, said veterans are those who served their country when needed and with honor and dignity.
Principles that volunteer soldiers fought and died for in 1775 and beyond are still worth dying for today, he said.
Other speakers at the program, conducted by Melinda Johnson, secretary of the Futurists' chapter, were Mick Thompson, a U.S. Navy recruiter in West Valley City; Franco D'Souza, president of the Futurists'
chapter; Dr. Michael Homer, dean of the college's School of Business Management and Computer Education; and Dr. Joseph E. Black, president, United Nations Association of Utah.
Homer, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said he "understands the commitment, the energy and the patriotism of those who have preserved the safety of this nation. They deserve our reflection and our gratitude."
He expressed concern about a declining "sense of pride, community and patriotism." And he said too many Americans are being split into disconnected communities and groups.
The educator urged citizens not to dwell unnecessarily on the negative when they learn of mistakes made by politicians, and he made a plea for people not to forget that there are many dedicated, loyal and hard-working government employees. Such individuals generally do an excellent job of operating government services, he said.
"American democracy means the freedom to criticize and be negative, but it means much more than that. I would suggest that future memorial services should reflect on the contributions of individuals who have caused companies to grow and prosper, on appreciating public employees for improving services at reduced cost and for the dedication of teachers . . . ," Homer said.
D'Souza, who was born in India and who lived in Bahrain in the Middle East, said U.N. Futurists believe that everything possible should be done to draw nations more closely together as they work toward world peace called for in the U.N. charter.
"It is a drive which becomes more critical with each passing day . . . ," D'Souza said.
"Along with the honors traditionally bestowed on Americans lost in combat, we also honor the citizens of other nations who lost their lives during service in the United Nations peacekeeping forces," D'Souza said.
Black, a visiting political science professor at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, told the audience of about 60 people that it is appropriate "to reflect on the causes of international conflict and to consider steps which have been taken and which must be taken in the future to prevent the catastrophe of another war. . . . "
He said persistent wars and conflict have led to the peacekeeping function, which was not in the U.N. charter. Under the charter, peace-keeping forces are referred to as "soldiers without enemies," soldiers whose mission is to prevent fighting, soldiers who are neutral, soldiers who are risking their lives to prevent conflict."