Looking back on what I’ve written for this day over the years, I think repeating this one is still very appropriate.
The last year has seen not only increases in terror attacks in our country, the majority of them from our own people, and terror attacks continuing throughout the world, but vicious verbal attacks on our citizenry, from those who certainly should know better.
We are still losing military personnel stationed overseas, and sadly, that will most likely continue, especially since we are now talking about sending troops over to another foreign country. And for what reason?
Many of our elected leaders have never served in the military, have no idea what it’s like. I grew up in the Viet Nam war era. Young men from my small home town went to serve and never returned. Throughout the country, boys were rushing to find deferments. Some were real, some were the result of wealthy families buying medical reports that weren’t always totally accurate . Some got those deferments, and still brag about it to this day. Many did not. Many chose to enlist rather than be drafted, and served their country. Some of them came home, but many did not.
And when our Viet Nam veterans returned, many times they were greeted not with welcome home signs, but protesters calling them names, such as baby killers, throwing bottles and trash at them, and refusing them jobs or a normal life.
That was an ugly time for our nation. And for many, the scars are still painfully there.
For the families of the fallen, Memorial Day is a painful and difficult reminder of those no longer around to attend family cookouts, go on a three day mini vacation, or shop the sales at their favorite stores.
It seems everyone’s talking about the fun they’re having. The food they’re eating. The places they’re seeing and the bargains they’re snagging at all the sales. Nothing but fun!
But it’s not for those who’ve lost loved ones fighting terrorism and in the various wars in places most of us have never been, and most likely never will be.
So here is the piece I wrote last year for Memorial Day. I believe it still applies, perhaps today more than ever.
Memorial Day matters to a lot of people; some more than others. For some it’s a day set aside to remember their own loved ones who died fighting for our country, but yet their families are the only ones who remember that. The empty place at the picnic table still hurts, no matter how long it’s been. A year, ten years, twenty, or in the case of a family in my hometown, almost fifty years.
I’m sure the families still vividly remember that day, that exact time, when they got the notification. The knock on the door; the phone call; the telegram. The moment that changed their lives forever; that turned their personal world upside down, never to be totally upright again.
Wives became widows, or husbands became widowers. Children became fatherless or motherless. Parents lost their child; sometimes their only child. Some parents lost the hope of ever becoming grandparents. Many could still picture the day he/she was sworn in as a soldier, or an airman, or a sailor. How proud everyone was. Now all they they had left was a flag draped casket and memories.
And no one, except them, seems to remember their sacrifices any more.
Not only do people not remember, but today there are now those who desecrate the flag-decorated graves of our honored military dead; desecrate war memorials meant to honor the fallen; and turn Memorial Day parades into riots, bringing only violence and hatred, claiming they have the right to protest, and they’re just exercising their “rights”. Even worse are the ones who decide to shoot a service member in uniform, because they “don’t believe in military service.” And yes, those service members who die in such shootings should be honored as well on Memorial Day, because they also gave their lives to preserve ours.
Yes protestors do have some rights. They have those rights because of the sacrifices of the men and women who are being honored by the flag-decorated graves, the war memorials, and the parades. But those rights are limited by law, something they tend to forget.
But our service members didn’t give their lives so protestors could vandalize their graves and their memorials. They gave their lives to preserve freedom in our country and around the world. But that doesn’t include freedom to incite violence and vandalize property in the name of “protesting”. It’s not an excuse for rudeness, or stealing.
I am tired of the protestors and the violence; I am tired of people putting down those in the military. I personally knew a few of our military who lost their lives in various wars and deployments. I have many, many friends who are in, or have retired from, the military, and many friends whose children are serving in the military. I honor them, and respect them, and admire them for their service and their sacrifice. And I thank them for keeping us safe, even though many times they risk their own lives to do so.
So on this Memorial Day, let’s all thank those who gave their lives for us so we could enjoy our freedom. Let’s thank their families as well.
Because Memorial Day still matters. To them, and to all of us.