Memorial Day and Veterans Day: Remembering Two Vitally Important Days and ….what makes each one unique!
Prologue: I have chosen to base my essay this week on Memorial Day. As this is an essay, it will be a bit longer than my usual postings but no less important. To that point, I would ask that you take the time and read this essay in its entirety. Our children and children’s children, should be aware, when celebrating these two important dates, the real reason Why we have been blessed with these two days off — to honor those individuals, men and women of valor, who have sacrificed their lives to ensure that “We the People” can live our lives freely, securely and happily! Now, let’s celebrate our freedom and remember those who are no longer with us!
There is a vast difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day although both are celebrations and remembrances of our Armed Forces and those who served in other ways.
Do you remember the movie “Born on the 4th of July?” During several points in the film there were parades taking place in many towns and cities. I remember these parades as if they were yesterday and they were an important part of my youth. I would march with my Boy Scout Troop and looked forward to the day when I would be the one leading my Troop up the Avenue. The Marching Bands and the Majorettes not to mention the floats. People would line the streets on both sides and many would be waving flags etc. Most of America was very Patriotic back in those days even though Viet Nam was on the rise. I mention Viet Nam because that was the War of my Generation. I was born at the tail end of the Korean War. I think back to over 238 years of American History from the ramparts of Bunker/Breed’s Hill to the hardships and suffering at Valley Forge. To the numerous other battles that led to victory and the creation of the New United States. To the War of 1812 and Francis Scott Key penning the words to the poem that would eventually become the US National Anthem “The Star Spangled Banner” and the Battle of New Orleans. To the War Between the States/Civil War where brother fought brother and cousin fought cousin in many great battles to include the Battle of Gettysburg where in this one battle there were more casualties than all of the Viet Nam War combined. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address…”Four Score and seven years ago our Fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Leading on to the Mexican War and the Spanish American War and Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill. To the Dough Boys of World War I (also known as the Great War) that was supposed to end all wars. Then there was World War 2 and the need to end the tyranny of the Great Dictators and the genocide of races. Numerous battles that were so bloody to describe here but to mention Normandy, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Bastogne, Burma. And then on to Communist threats and the War (yes War) in Korea. Having mentioned that I grew up in the Viet Nam era I would be remiss to leave out such names as the Ia Drang Valley and Khe Sanh to name a few. We can’t leave out The Gulf War conflicts nor can we speak any less to Beirut, and Somalia (Black Hawk Down) and finally Iraq and Afghanistan. And last but certainly not least is the continuing War on Terrorism that includes the recent activities and loss of life in Benghazi.
I am sure that in my quick run through history I have left out items that may be familiar to you or that your relatives were involved in. What I am pointing out is that in all that I have mentioned is that good men and women gave up their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice for causes that they considered worthy. The lives that they gave up were to help ensure that a better America would emerge and that future generations would be better off as a result. The United States of America is a Nation of Immigrants, yes, immigrants who came in order to fulfill the dreams and goals that awaited. The ability to have a new and free life. And yet, in so many cases, these immigrants and their off spring now citizens were prepared and continue to be prepared to answer the call to duty.
The History of Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) stems back over 140 years. It celebrates the American fighting men and women who lived and died honoring a Code. That code states “I am an American Fighting Man. I serve in the Forces that guard our country and protect our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense”.. Article I, United States Code of Conduct. Memorial Day is a day of Remembrance of those that made this sacrifice. It is not about division but more so about reconciliation. Our coming together to honor those who gave ALL.
As time has gone by, Traditional Observances have diminished as many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions that stemmed forth. Part of this problem is that our children have not been taught. We need to ensure that our children know about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where a guard stands 24/7 365 days a year no matter what the weather or conditions.
In today’s lingo, the Code has also come to include some other critical points: To serve the People of the United States, to always place the mission first, to never accept defeat, to NEVER quit and to NEVER leave a fallen comrade (again I remind us of our current dilemma in Benghazi) etc.
I am proud to be speaking to this as my Father served before me, and my Son and Son in Law have and are serving after me. We are not about loving War…We are about loving our Country and working to maintain the peace what ever the cost. So as you can see, Memorial Day is more than just a day or weekend off. It is about Remembering and Never forgetting.
Veterans Day is about remembering all those who have served and who are also still living and has a different meaning which we can talk about in another essay. Thus, when people come up to me and thank me for my service to MY Country, I thank them but I point out that others have paid a higher price and are deserving of so much more when it comes to thanks. I am about Leadership and write about leadership. There appears to be some issues right now when it comes to our leaders actually leading. The last Minute from Maxwell word that I wrote about this week was “resurrection”. How fitting to be the word just before this holiday. I can only hope that all who have made the sacrifice and have gone before us are not “turning in their graves” at what is presently going on. I will end with the words of Abraham Lincoln from that same Gettysburg Address and I quote “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
I have so much more that I would love to say but now it is your turn…
Please share your personal thoughts and experiences stemming from your childhood to your feelings today of Veterans Day and Memorial Day and help others to understand the true meaning of these Special Holidays.
PS. Please take a few moments to watch and take in the videos attached.