Friday is our FOX 29 Salutes The Military and there are families all over our region who deserve thanks for their service. Our Bruce Gordon joins us with the story of a family for whom the desire to serve others is passed from one generation to the next.
It's easy to miss as you pass by the neat brick home festooned with patriotic flags and bunting: the banner in the window with three blue stars. Inside, a mother of three children in the military, waits...and worries.
"It wasn't our decision. It was their decision. I'm proud of them. I'm honored that they're doing this for our country, " Jeanmarie Flanagan said.
As Frank and Jeanmarie Flanagan reminisce over a family scrap book, it's clear they have reason to be proud.
Their 21 year old son, Dennis, junior, is an Army specialist based in Germany. 20-year-old Michael is an Army PFC- serving in Afghanistan, and 18-year-old Jake just finished Navy boot camp outside Chicago.
Dennis himself is an Army veteran. That legacy includes a father who took part in the Normandy invasion during World War Two...and grandfathers and great-grandfathers who also served in the Army.
'I'm proud. I'm proud of what my ancestors did for this country. I'm proud of my sons," Dennis Flanagan said.
Dennis has served his community as a Philadelphia firefighter for nearly three decades. A picture of son Michael, in a war zone since January, is taped to his locker at Engine 66,
"Nine months is a long time. And when he tells you he's going 'on the wire' on a mission, that's when you really start to worry," Dennis said.
"He's young. He's seen things that most 20 year olds don't want to see. I worry," Jeanmarie said/
"We pray a lot. And that's all you can do...is pray," Dennis said.
Despite a dozen years at war, most Americans feel far removed from the sense of danger and loss that the Flanagans contemplate each and every day.
Michael Flanagan is due home from Afghanistan October 17. His folks say they will greet him with hugs, kisses...and - at his request- cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and Tastykakes.