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Cox hopes Ukrainian flag over Capitol reminds Americans of patriotism

Utah Capitol Ukraine Flag.jpg
Posted at 1:01 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 15:20:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Not only did Gov. Spencer Cox order the Ukrainian flag to be flown Monday about the Utah State Capitol, he also took a moment to share words on how the patriotism shown by millions half a world away helped "remind us what it means to be Americans."

As the people of the Ukraine stand together in their fight against the Russian invasion, Cox explained why it was important to fly the Ukrainian flag by sharing a personal story about what a flag can mean to individuals and a country.

The governor noted that the invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 23, which also marked the anniversary of the raising of the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi by Marines fighting on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Iwo Jima Flag
FILE - In this Feb 23, 1945 file photo, U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan.

"In our family, we remember a tough Marine who cried when he saw that flag. He had been shot through the chest taking on a suicide mission to protect his platoon in the battle of Iwo Jima. He should have died, but a promise to give his life over to God combined with a brother who disobeyed a direct order to bring him medical attention was just the miracle he needed to survive. That man was Duffy Palmer, Abby’s grandfather," wrote Cox, speaking of his wife's family.

Cox shared what his Palmer told him about those days fighting on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and what the image of a flag meant to him and others in the middle of battle.

“It rained on us a day or two there on Iwo Jima. One day, three or four days into the operation, I looked up and saw the “FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” flying on the Mt. Suribachi. What a thrill it was to see the flag. What joy it gave and great encouragement to all of us. Here I was a big TOUGH MARINE SERGEANT. Yet when I saw the beautiful symbol of freedom, I cried like a baby. How beautiful it was and to me still is," said Palmer. "Those posting the colors on the hill knew what they were doing, but we did not. I feel the real drama of that posting of the colors. We saw the flag and were not afraid to show the emotion of love for the flag.

"How I wish every American could always have those feelings for the flag that I experienced that day.”

According to the governor, Palmer was worried that Americans had forgotten those moments since the war, "moments that saved the world for future generations and kept the American Dream alive."

Cox wrote of the amazing stand Ukrainians are taking to fight off the invading Russian forces, seeing teachers, mothers, ambassadors and others stand up to a military might much stronger than theirs.

"It is breathtaking and inspiring," said Cox.

The governor added that the patriotism currently being shown in Eastern Europe should feel familiar here in the U.S.

"There is something vaguely familiar in it all. It feels, well, American. Or at least what America can be and has been at its very best.

"Somewhere between Iwo Jima and Kyiv we lost this thread. We argue and fight about so much stupid stuff. Stuff that melts away when we see children sobbing as their dads say goodbye. Stuff that doesn’t matter when we see a young couple getting married so they can die together on the battlefield. Stuff that seems trivial when rockets are raining down and democracy and people are dying.

"I had no idea that it would take us all becoming Ukrainians to remind us what it means to be Americans. It’s almost surreal to see Republicans and Democrats uniting again. And certainly not just Americans. There is a unity occurring all across the world that we haven’t seen since 9/11. For too many of us it may feel a little uncomfortable. We haven’t exercised these bipartisan or nonpartisan muscles much.

"Please lean into the discomfort. We need this. Our country needs this. The world needs this."

Cox finished by saying that while ordering a flag to fly overhead may be just a symbol, that symbols matter, just as they did for his Palmer in 1945.