Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Despite what many elected officials like to tell us on Memorial Day, today is not a day to honor all veterans, or all who have served in the military, or those currently serving. Memorial Day is the day we set aside, as a whole country at once, to honor those who gave their last full measure of devotion.

This may seem like a small point, but to a soldier it is a huge difference. November 11th is Veteran's Day. The third Saturday in May is Armed Forces Day. On neither one of those days do we fly the flag at half staff. Memorial Day, Patriot's Day (Sept 11th) and Pearl Harbor Day are the only days set aside each year for the flag to be flown at half staff nationwide.

Soldiers in combat fear death, and they fear being wounded. They fear letting down their fellow soldiers, and they fear seeing their buddies killed or wounded. But all of these things are temporary and fleeting concerns. What a soldier or Marine or sailor truly fears is dying for their country and then being forgotten.

If you see a veteran today, whether it is in a parade, at a cemetery, or at the local VFW, by all means tell them thank you for their service. That is something that we should all be doing everyday, Memorial Day included. But today, please take a minute to think of the men and women who aren't here to march in a parade or share a drink at the VFW.

For veterans, today is the day we set aside to remember the fallen comrades we served with.

Greyhawk says about today-
This is Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy it. Celebrate it - the people who died to give you that right would appreciate it. But they didn't die peaceably in their beds, these dogs who fell protecting sheep from wolves.

John at Castle Argghhh! is more eloquent-
But most of what is in that message is... Veteran's Day. The day for the living. Memorial Day is... set aside to remember the lives that were spent so that we could live ours, those who served and survived, but have since passed, and, of course, for our family and friends, whether they served or not.

McQ at Blackfive is more eloquent yet-
Memorial Day is about those who gave up their tomorrows for our today. They’re the men and women who forever gave up the chance to see and hold the child born while they were at war. The chance to again caress their husband or wife and tell them they love them. The chance to hold their mother's hand and bask in her sweet smile one last time. Or to stare in pure awe at their first grandchild. They gave it all in the service of their country, and it is our job as citizens of this great land to remember them and their sacrifice.

For myself, I will be taking my children to a small cemetery outside of Morristown to say hello to an old Army buddy, PFC Michael David, who gave his life for his country one warm October night. As long as I live, he will never be forgotten.

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