Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember. Originally, it was “Decoration Day,” started during the Civil War. Some of you may have seen the email about veterans that has been circulating the past few years. It is worth another look.
It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of and from religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter or editor, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet or broadcaster, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN, who salutes our flag
It is the VETERAN, who served under our nation’s flag.
Our nation's last World War 1 Veteran, Frank Woodruff Buckles, died recently. He was born February 1, 1901, and died February 27, 2011 at the age of 110 years and 26 days!
Every day, we are losing about 850 of our World War 2 Veterans. Their average age is about 87. Their numbers are rapidly diminishing. It is a similar situation with Korea War Veterans, and, Vietnam Veterans.
It is startling and alarming to realize that so many Vietnam Veterans have already died. It is shocking to realize that many of them have died of illnesses connected to defoliant sprays used in Vietnam.
Nowadays, for many people, Memorial Day is synonymous with a three–day weekend getaway – camping, fishing, sightseeing, hiking in the wilderness; or, maybe just resting at home, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the backyard grill.
Few people actually knew someone who was combat killed while serving in the U.S. military forces. War is something seen in small clips on TV news. It is just another news item.
Religious fanatical suicide bombings and, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are just a news item – until a family member, or young person from your neighborhood or town comes home in a flag draped military coffin.
Then, the war is in your own yard. I know about that. Two of my friends – Barry Williams and Don Sain – died in Vietnam. Both were very good young men, now memorialized with a veteran’s grave marker, and their name on the Vietnam Memorial wall. http://www.virtualwall.org/ds/SainDR01a.htm
Most cemeteries across the United States will have small flags at the grave markers of men and women who served in the U.S. military. If you pass by a cemetery on Memorial Day, you will see the flags, in most cases placed there by scouts. You will get an idea of how many veterans are resting their eternal rest in that cemetery.
Memorial Day should be a day to remember those who served, but it should also be a day to thank those who served. It’s OK to do that. If you pass a cemetery and see the flags, or you see someone in uniform, simply say, “Thank you for serving,” or, “Thank you for your service.” It means a lot when people do that.
Lt. Colonel John McCrae penned the poem In Flanders Field, May 3, 1915. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCrae
I believe it is appropriate to share Lt. Colonel McCrae’s poem on Memorial Day.
"In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below...
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields...
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields..."
I'm a veteran of the U.S. Air Force - 1962 to 1966