Monday, May 21, 2012
If you close your eyes and keep your fingers crossed, Memorial Day will be here before you know it. The day is intended to honor the men and women who died in our nation’s wars. For most of us May 28 will involve parades, barbeques and perhaps briefly thinking about all deceased veterans whether they died on active service or long after their uniforms were put aside.
There are a handful of stories about how Memorial Day came to be, just as there are various cities around this land claiming honor as the site of its origination. The most widely accepted version however credits the ladies of the South who started to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in The War Between the States, our own Civil War. Many people confuse the purpose of Memorial Day with that of Veterans Day. The latter was originally “Armistice Day” commemorating the end of hostilities (1914-1918) between the Allied Forces and the Imperial forces of Germany during ”The War to End All Wars”. Of course it wasn’t really a war to end all wars because two decades later we had that much larger and bloodier conflict we now call “World War II”. Then there was Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and who knows what will be next? Our young men and women will ever be in uniform manning the walls and protecting those of us at home.
As most of you know the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the right of anti-war protestors to show up at funerals with signs to celebrate the deaths of fallen warriors even as service members are being laid to rest eternal. The hurt of such demonstrations has been subordinated to protecting the right of free speech. I understand free speech and how important it is in a democracy; indeed I express my own opinion in this blog site every time I write a post. What I do not understand is the desecration of any person’s memory during holy final moments, particularly one who has given his/her life for our country. As for the few who choose to interrupt and celebrate the death of a service person, my editor will not permit me to use such words in this forum.
The legendary General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, is remembered for many contributions over his long and distinguished military career but none more so than when he said “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” With respects to the general, old soldiers do die and in 2011 we lost the last of them from World War I. His name was Frank Buckles and he served as a corporal and ambulance driver in France. He was 110 years old.
On this coming Memorial Day and on all other days of the year for that matter, don’t forget to remember the valiant men and women of our Armed Forces. As a matter of fact you don’t have to wait until May 28. Whenever you see a man or woman in military uniform, personally thank him or her for their service. I guarantee you that they will appreciate your doing so.