I recently watched the deeply moving movie “Taking Chance” on HBO television. It is the true story of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, a 17-year career officer and a veteran of Desert Storm.

Strobl had requested military escort duty to accompany 19-year old Marine Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, who had been killed by hostile fire in Iraq, back to his family at Dubois, Wyo. Strobl kept a journal of his assignment witnessing the patriotic response and respect from people he encountered along the way such as airport personnel, plane passengers, motorists and the entire town that attended the funeral services.

 Captured in the film is the sad, but necessary, discreet, respectful preparation for burial by the specialized staff at the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs at Dover Air Force Base. As you read this, Dover mortuary personnel are doing their duty, preparing others for that final trip back home. Prior to the preparation, the elite honor guard at Dover respectfully welcomes the fallen home in flag-draped coffins.

Until Thursday, the Pentagon had forbidden media coverage of such arrivals, which was initiated after the December 1989 invasion of Panama. The Pentagon has now lifted the controversial ban. However, coverage must be approved by the victim’s families. The reason for the controversial ban was supposedly out of respect for the fallen. Many families, who successfully fought the ban, say they do not want anonymous caskets arriving at Dover and they want the nation to grieve with them.

Honor and respect for the fallen are deeply important to the Independence Patriotic Council. The 69-year-old organization, made up of various veterans’ organizations ladies auxiliaries, and other patriotic organizations, is holding its annual banquet this Sunday to raise funds for Memorial Day flags for local military graves.

I have the honor of speaking at the banquet and dance this Sunday at 2 p.m. to be held at the Tirey J. Ford American Legion Post 21, 16701 East U.S. 40 in Independence. If you wish to attend contact secretary Anna Finfrock at 524-5072 or the Independence VFW Post at 373-0221.

For the $12.50 price of admission, you will be helping to place a flag on the grave of a fallen American, plus you’ll have a great time dancing to a Glenn Miller-type band and meeting some great patriotic Americans like yourself.

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.