Next Monday, May 26, is Memorial Day here in the States. It is a federal holiday to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
For many, the holiday has morphed into just another 3-day weekend where Monday’s events have little or nothing to do with Memorial Day.
There is some irony in this. Men and women who died serving in our military did so to preserve our freedom and security – to give us the privilege of choosing how we spend every day, including Memorial Day. While we dispute decisions made through the years about engaging in specific conflicts and wars, we cannot dispute that these brave men and women lost their lives for a cause greater than themselves. We owe them our remembrance.
National cemeteries, where Veterans and spouses are buried, all hold a ceremony on Memorial Day – lasting about an hour – that honors our fallen with speeches and music. These ceremonies are open to the public, and I encourage you to attend if you live near one of the cemeteries. Sadness, honor, respect, pride, gratitude, citizenship, family, military buddy, freedom, sacrifice, civil liberties – these are a few words and emotions I feel during this time spent honoring our fallen.
Especially poignant are the elderly WWII Vets in attendance – a number that noticeably dwindles each year – and the still strong brotherhood of those in attendance from the Viet Nam era.
Volunteers – usually on Saturday preceding Memorial Day – place a flag at every gravestone. On Tuesday, the day after, volunteers pick up those flags. Participating in this activity is open to the public, and is a moving and rewarding experience.
Please, this Memorial Day, take time to think about what this holiday means. Talk about it with your children and grandchildren. Visit one of the cemeteries online if you can’t go in person. I doubt there are many of you who haven’t had someone serve sometime during your family’s history.
For the many who gave their lives in service to our country, my everlasting gratitude.
In memory of:
Dad’s fellow Marines who died in the Pacific Theater, WWII
Ray Crull, KIA South VietNam 3/26/1970
Russell Rippetoe, KIA Iraq 4/3/2003
Danny Dietz, Jr., KIA Afghanistan 6/28/2005