It has become a Memorial Day tradition on the part of the 3rd Infantry Division, (The Old Guard) to place flags on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery. They are placed with military precision, one boot length from each stone. It is a powerful way to remember each Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine who died while serving this country, and who now rests beneath those stones in those hallowed grounds. It will take days for the Old Guard to complete this task, but when they are finished and the sun rises on Memorial Day again this year, the grounds of that sacred place will be ablaze with color. Though it is a place of somber remembrance, it will boast a celebratory air that day. The same will be true in cemeteries where veterans are buried all across the country. It is good for us to remember those who have served and to celebrate what they gave in service to us all.
REMEMBERING THE FALLEN
Troops stationed in Korea, Germany, Italy, Afghanistan, and many other places, will gather that day to remember those who have served just as they are serving now. In some places, like Afghanistan, they will also remember those who have served and died in the war that they are still engaged in. In many of those places, the local people will come to honor those Americans who have fallen fighting for them as well.
Why, then, should we all remember?
It is not warring that we are remembering with this national holiday. Rather, we are remembering those who served and those who gave their last full measure of devotion in order to ensure that the freedoms that this country offers to all would be able to be passed on to the next generations.
We remember them because they tell us something about our human dignity. They remind us of the cost of freedom and of the quality of our character as a nation. We do not gather on this holiday to glorify wars.
Rather, we are challenged to remember that when war comes unbidden to us, there are those who are willing to give their all to defend this nation. Deep down we want to remember in the hope that we will find ways to prevent wars and never again have to fight them again. There is, among veterans, no more hoped for desire than the desire that their own sons and daughters will never have to suffer the terrors of war or the effects of war.
HONORING THOSE THAT HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY
Memorial Day is almost upon us. Observed as a holiday on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors men and women who died while serving in the United States Military. In cities and towns across the country Memorial Day is honored with parades including military personnel and members of veteran’s organizations.
Prior to being called Memorial Day, this day was celebrated as Decoration Day, originating in the years following the Civil War. It became a federal holiday in 1971 and has been observed annually by Americans.
Take some time this year to learn about the significant wars in American history and the men and women who lead the charge.