Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

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Memorial Day has many meanings to many people. To most, it is signals the beginning of summer. Locally, we have a plethora of graduation parties as seniors graduate from high school and college. To our older generations, it was known as Decoration Day; a day to decorate the graves of loved ones and veterans. Today, the holiday is designated as a memorial to all veterans, living and dead.

Today, while enjoying a day off work, with your family and friends, take time to remember those who have fought and died for our freedoms. We have many more veterans now than in years past, as more of our service men and women return from duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other lesser know locations. Although the exact locations of deployments of U.S. forces is not readily available, we do have troops serving in the Balkans, fighting pirates off of the east African coast and among the island of Indonesia, and assisting the U.N and NATO all over the world.

Enjoy your extended weekend. Remember those who have served to give you this holiday. The point of the holiday is to rejoice. Celebrate our freedoms. Celebrate that we have a country that has, from the first moments of its existence, been populated by brave men and women willing to stand up and fight for family, country and justice. Even if you are anti-war, remember that these are people willing to protect everyone in our country. We have never had a conflict where we as a nation choose to participate or stand aside that has not had supporters and dissenters. This day is not a day to debate the merits or drawbacks of any military action. This day is for those who have not argued what is right and what is wrong. This day is for those who stepped up and did the job, with or without cheers or support.

If you visit a cemetery to decorate a relative’s grave, look around. That the chance to see who it was that made this day of peace and security possible. There is not a cemetery in America that does not have a headstone for a veteran, either fallen in battle or fortunate enough to have made it home to live life and die at an old age. These are not the ostentatious people who need attention. These are the people who do their duty, quietly and with dignity. Let your actions and appreciation be a memorial to your children for all who serve.

It is the VETERAN,

not the preacher,

who has given us freedom of religion.


It is the VETERAN,

not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.


It is the VETERAN,

not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.


It is the VETERAN,

not the campus organizer,

who has given us freedom to assemble.


It is the VETERAN,

not the lawyer,

who has given us the right to a fair trial.


It is the VETERAN,

not the politician,

who has given us the right to vote.

What Is Memorial Day?

May 31, 2010

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What is Memorial Day?  Is it a day of sales events?  Is it the official start of summer?  Is it time for the annual family bar-b-q?  Well it is all of those things and more.  In days gone by, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day.  It was a day to take fresh flowers and decorate the graves of loved ones, family and fallen service men.  It was a day to remember and a day to teach.  Seniors and veterans explained the history of family and country to the younger generations and provided role models for young people.

The name Memorial Day was established after WWII when it became a federal holiday.  The focus on those who lost their lives defending our nation was extremely important to the nation, and takes on added significance today.  During times of peace, such as the twenty years prior to 9/11, we generally forget the sacrifice that so many men and women have made for our freedoms.  Those who serve remember in silence and let the rest of us go about our daily lives; that is what they fought for after all.  But in times of conflict, when each of us has some direct contact with the pain and loss of friends and family, this focus returns.

I have never been a member of the military, although through out my professional career, I have had the opportunity to help our armed forces by making sure they have the best possible equipment to perform their duty.  I have had the privilege and honor to know many service men and women.  I have found that they are all heroes in some way.  My biggest hero served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during the Korean Conflict.  He was stationed in Okinawa and participated in several missions on board a B-28 bomber.  That man is my father.

Today, he is participating in several Memorial Day events.  Most of these events will be sparsely attended.  He will speak at the grave yard in his home town of Liberty Hill, Texas.  Over the weekend, he oversaw a group of Boy Scouts who put new flags at the graves of every veteran buried there.  Later at the VFW, he will address the veterans of his community.

When he asked me what I was doing for the holiday, I admitted that I would be spending the day with my wife and kids at home.  We have nothing special planned to honor anyone, to recognize anyone, or to celebrate anything other than a day off work.  I could hear his disappointment as he commented “just like everyone else.”

I have been thinking about this article for several days, trying to think of how to honor the heroes I know.  I asked the questions; who are my heroes?  Why are they heroes?  Is there anyone specific to me?  I had answers for all of those.  My heroes ranged from my old high school teachers, to police and firemen, soldiers, sailors, marines and guardsmen.  I remember mentors from every period of my life; people who touched me directly or helped people I know.

My father’s question made me realize that the remembering is what is important.  Even if we do not participate in any official activities, even if we are caught up in the sales and picnics, as long as we remember, we are fulfilling the intent of Memorial Day.  All I can ask each reader to do is remember.  Think of all of the people, alive and dead, who deserve your respect, have earned a place of honor, became a part of your life.