Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day Perspective

Gettysburg National Cemetery, 2013.
Today is one of those days when I can’t help but be grateful for sacrifices made by others to ensure that we are able to live the lives that we do. Without those who gave all for this country we would not be able to enjoy the rights and freedom that we do today. It is for this reason that I am so angered when some insists on stripping the rights and freedom of people through the stroke of a pen which flies in the face of the sacrifices made to preserve all that we have in this country.

As I have done before, to give you a concise description of the holiday, I am pasting the introduction below that can be found on Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountains. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. There often is a religious service and a "dinner on the ground," the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the "memorial day" idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

One amendment that I believe that should be made to this holiday is to honor those active duty personnel and veterans who lost their lives due to physical or psychological injuries received in combat. This is an issue that seems to be forgotten, especially considering the controversies running rampant in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and VA Hospitals throughout the country. We need to honor those veterans fighting those battles beyond the theater of war and do all that we can to ensure that they are not one of those fallen after the war is over.

We must honor those who fought and remember what the fought for. While an imperfect union, it is the best that we have and we should not allow the flick of a pen to change the course of our country and question the freedom in this country that we all tend to take for granted. We must remember, support, and defend all that those men and women gave their lives to defend. That is the best way we can celebrate Memorial Day today and every day.