Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the traditional kick off for Summertime, even though the official first day of summer is not until later in June. For many, Memorial Day means picnics, trips to the lake,  baseball games, horseshoes, pool parties, kids out of school, barbecues and the Indy 500.

And, yes, it means all those things, but there is a greater meaning.

The loss of a loved one in war must be a horrible burden to bear, one that I have not personally felt, but one that I can empathize with completely.

Our great nation, however imperfect she may be, has stood the test of time and our brightest and best have stood up for her and defended her throughout history, some with the forfeiture of their lives.

The shot heard ’round the world. The Battle of New Orleans. Gettysburg. The Hundred Day Offensive. Pearl Harbor, Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and Iwo Jima.  The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. The Tet Offensive.  The Mother of All Battles. Kabul. Baghdad.

No matter your thoughts on these wars, you have to respect those that fought them for us, and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve no less.

Today, when you sit down with your family, friends or even alone, take a moment to reflect on those that stood tall to protect our freedom and liberty.

But I would also suggest that you remember those that lost their lives, but not in uniform, but for a cause greater than themselves.

Medgar Evers. Dr. King. Rachel Corrie. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Matthew Shepard. Harvey Milk. Rachel Corrie. Tom Hurndall. The Kennedy’s. And many, many more.

Today is the day we set aside to honor those that have come before us, blazing a trail so we all may have a better life. As you celebrate the day, stop to remember and honor those that have made this day possible.

It’s the least we can do.


William Stephenson Clark

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10 Comments

Filed under Celebration, History, President Barack Obama, Tributes, WAR

10 responses to “Memorial Day

  1. Freebird1971

    God bless and protect our troops.

  2. tosmarttobegop

    I am not old enough to have served in Vietnam, just old enough to have been aware of the effect and the daily reports on the evening news. For me and frankly only when my 18th birthday grew nearer the thoughts of serving there brought thoughts of it becoming a reality.

    Often people do confuse that I did, I have looked older at much too young an age.

    But the MIA/POW movement is important to me, in part from my knowing many who did serve.
    Hearing their stories and thoughts on it, one evening and oddly on a trip to the Grocery store of all places.
    I had a realization, I knew them!

    They were friends older brothers, they were guys I went to school with, that I met at the Mall or that I worked with… in many respect they were me. WE all knew those who served and did not come back.

    They were younger brothers and older brother. they were someone’s dad or Uncle.

    We know everyone who has served in the military, went to some foreign land under the flag of this nation.

    Those who died were not faceless and name-less to us, they have been through out of lives.

    They had the same hopes and dreams as we have and for some those hopes and dreams passed with them.

    When you see a picture of the one who died on a beach or in some hell hole the reason they may look familiar is that you knew them.

    From school or the kid down the block and no matter what war it was or time they served they are the same.

    You knew them, talk to them or passed them just walking by.

    Today is to honor this nation’s fallen, the reality is that it is to honor those we knew.
    And we knew all of them……

  3. Freebird1971

    I hope everyone is truly enjoying their weekend and remembering those who made it possible.

    • I hope I can say what I’m thinking in words that are as gentle and kind as I intend them.

      First and foremost! I completely agree and hope we are all remembering to pause in thanks for our soldiers who gave their lives for our country and our freedoms!

      We have two national holidays for our service men and women — today for those who died, and Veterans Day for those who survived. Both those days we think about all of them. And we should!

      Now, on to the difficult part that I’m choosing words carefully to say. There are other ways to serve our country, there are other ways to ensure our freedoms. I don’t ever want to take anything away from our soldiers and especially not from those we honor today, but somehow I wish we didn’t elevate them while forgetting so many others who also deserve our thanks.

      Nurses, firemen, mothers, fathers, teachers, road workers, those who work in the plants, law enforcement… It takes us all. Simply teaching a child to embrace our country full of diversity, full of heroes of every stripe and every walk of life, will encourage an attitude of pride and acceptance for all the parts of the puzzle that go together to make one great country.

      I hope I didn’t step on any toes! I didn’t want to. Maybe I shouldn’t even attempt to make my point on this day, because this day is set aside to honor a truly deserving group.

      Another day we can talk about remembering to be respectful of the others.

  4. Freebird1971

    Didn’t step on any toes here,I agree,in fact my son continues to serve as a firefighter for the city of Wichita and is on duty today.
    You are correct in that everyone serves in one way or the other but it is also true that some service,due to it’s nature is more visible than others.

  5. indypendent

    I was told by my grandpa that the WWII soldier was the American that put on the uniform and went overseas.

    Other Americans had no special uniforms because they were the average American who totally supported our uniformed soldiers by carrying on their normal lives and showing the enemy that our country was still strong.

    Many of the folks back home gave of themselves. They made sacrifices so our soldiers had what they needed to do their job and then come home to their families safely.

    Does this make the uniformed Americans soldier any more noble than the everyday Americans? In one way it does because they are the ones putting their very lives on the line.

    But without the support and help of all those every day Americans, the uniformed soldier would be fighting a losing battle.

    I am amazed at how many people (and not just young people) do not know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. And that saddens me.

    I knew several men who served in Vietnam who never made it home alive. I often wonder how life would have been like if they had lived.

    But in the grand scheme of life – who has the power to pick and choose how their life will turn out?

    I am just wondering if our country was attacked again, would we as a nation pull together and become unified or will the current political-playing nonsense crap prevail?

    God help us all if we don’t get the message of – a house divided cannot stand.

    • indypendent

      BTW – my grandpa worked 12-hr shifts in the shipyard to make it possible for our soldiers to win the war.

      He also had brothers who did put on the uniform, so he personally knew the tragic loss of one of this brothers from war.

      My grandpa was married, with a pregnant wife and a few kids by that time. That is why he was not in one of those uniforms but he also served his country by sweating those 12-hr shift in a shipyard doing backbreaking work. My grandpa was a proud American. He was also a loyal American.

      I think sometimes we see alot of false pride of patriotism today. I think we see alot of people who actually see nothing wrong with wearing a swimsuit, boxers, panties or even standing on a rug that looks like the American flag.

      Knowing Americans were doing that would just make my grandpa so angry – as it does me.

  6. indypendent

    fnord – I think you and I are generally on the same page and you said it just fine – it came from your heart.

    Sometimes when I hear the biggest screamers about who is more patriotic or who are the ‘real’ Americans, I just want to scream.

    I am so sick of hearing how Obama is constantly running America down or that he does not care about our soldiers. And knowing alot of this criticism is coming from the very people who used their family’s name or political influence to get deferments from going to Vietnam.

    That really chaps my hide.