Friday, May 23, 2008

The Meaning of Memorial Day

By John Kubicek (and others)

What does Memorial Day mean? In short, it is to honor our fallen military heroes, those that gave their lives to defend the Constitution of the United States and our freedom.

That may be the actual original meaning of Memorial Day, but what does it actually mean to people? That is the question I asked of people a few days ago, and I received several replies, which I want to share with you.
Memorial Day is not about commercialism, and Memorial Day sales, and it's not about the 3 day weekend getaway. It's a time to honor our deceased, veteran or non-veteran. Families drive out to the cemetery to remember loved ones. They place flowers upon the graves. Each veterans grave is graced with an American Flag, and we honor the service and sacrifices they gave. Following these services, it is traditional for families to gather and have a B-B-Q. This is not a time for joyous celebration.

Monday I will be attending memorial services at 4 local cemeteries. I will fight the Memorial Day traffic, and on going road construction to attend a re-dedication ceremony at the our local Veterans' Memorial.

Jackie Gordon - Oregon (ladyjusa)

At first, what Jackie said about honoring our deceased, veteran or non-veteran, I hesitated. But then I realized, that while the original intent was to honor the veterans, I have no problem with extending the honor to others that may not have been military veterans. This country has seen many heroes that haven't been involved in the military. There are the emergency service workers - our police, fire fighters, paramedics, border patrol... You get the idea. For many have died in the line of service, to protect our freedoms, to protect our neighbors. And then, there were folks like our parents, that just went out and worked hard, and made this the highest producing nation on the planet! They sacrificed much to work hard and keep things running. They produced the various commodities that kept us fed, warm and able to travel for work and pleasure.

Darn right, Jackie, non-vets ARE included in honoring the fallen today! Thank you for reminding me!

And now, T. L. Farlow expounds on a further dimension of honoring those of us that SERVE us!

Memorial Day Approaches! (Editor's note: No, actually, now it is here!)

As generous as our very own ancestors were to stuggle daily in providing for their families' existence and to ensure a future for generations of them to come, the very reason that WE are here today, we should venerate them for the great familial love that they have shared with us. Even though we did not personally know them and of course, they not personally knowing of us, we cannot but help to express our love for their great toil, their many sacrifices, their long suffering and their love during their existence in this life.

Likewise, should we venerate those who have served in the military, having sacrificed their time, their blood, their tears, their fears and their very lives if necessary. We may not have known them personally, but because of their love for freedom, for country and yes for US, they have given selflessly. Yes, we should acknowlege, we should admire, we should give great esteem to all those who have chosen to serve their fellow man in times of war and peace. Countless soldiers have fallen in the line of duty, providing the ultimate sacrifice for their country, families and fellow citizens.

Many more have also served that suffered injuries large and small that caused great burdens for them throughout the remainder of their lives. These, too, should be honored for their forfeitures of time, livelihoods and health, in the service of US, those who are enjoying the benefits of freedom, the results of their labors.

This Memorial Day, let us all celebrate the lives of so many, even those who shall remain nameless, for without them, we may not have been. Let us treat them, our brothers and sisters in uniform, just as we would family, to honor their works so that others may live in peace and prosperity.

T. L. Farlow - Pennsylvania (citizentlf)

This just keeps on getting more moving as we go. Is the point of today, Memorial Day, starting to sink in yet?

Well, let's try another quote from my volunteer army of writers:

I recall several years ago sitting down with my great uncle to interview him about his experiences in World War II. They were amazing -- he saw firsthand the brutality of the enemy as he made his way from Sicily to Germany and ended up liberating the death camp at Dachau. He was young, barely out of his teens at the time, from a small town in the middle of nowhere, and saw things that no man, young or old, should ever have to see.

And there were thousands others like him, many of whom did not come home from those foreign shores. I have another uncle who fought in WWII, and another in Korea. They would never say much about what they went through, but I've always thought that their experiences left scars that linger to this day. Going back even farther, I recall standing on the very spot on the battlefield at Vicksburg where my great-great-great-grandfather stood against the invading federal army -- not for any political cause, for he knew nothing of such things; not to defend slavery, certainly, for he owned none; but merely because his home was invaded and his family and property and liberty were threatened, did he take up arms in their defense.

It is to these men, and others like them, that we owe the freedom to read and write these words. Because a few were willing to fight and to die to defend that liberty, we are free to say what we want, worship how we like, and disagree with the government all we like, without fear of reprisal. That is a precious gift, and was not given cheaply. We bear a great heritage of freedom given to us by the blood and sweat of great men.

We must honor that by using it responsibly, by using that free choice we have been given to choose the right, and not to abuse it. That is what Memorial Day is to me -- a reminder of the solemn duty laid upon us by those who came before and sacrificed so much to give us that heritage of liberty.

drachemorder - Madison, MS (drachemorder)

That is some very powerful stuff right there, my fellow patriots. What are you and I willing to give up? My friend DL tells us here that we must NOT EVER GIVE UP OUR FREEDOM!

It is impossible to ascertain the price of freedom. Words or tokens cannot express the depth of my soul’s gratitude for those who paid that price; but Memorial Day provides an opportunity for personal contemplation and a chance to give tribute to those who lived and died so that I can have the privilege to say, “I am an American."

I am an American. I cannot say those words without caressing them. Somehow, American freedom is embedded deep inside me — perhaps this freedom can be traced through my bloodline, perhaps it stems from the many years I have spent away from my homeland — viewing America’s precious liberties from “outside the box.”

My genealogy is filled with patriots. On one branch of my family tree, I can prove myself a daughter of the American Revolution — with connection through marriage to George Washington himself. My Virginian ancestors fought for America in every war she has faced — including the War for Independence. But another genealogical branch teems with suffering immigrant ancestors straggling to America the “Savior”, to escape the Holocaust in Europe. Some of my relatives died to build America, and others gratefully lived because of their sacrifice. The words explain who preceded
me — I am an American.

For various reasons, I have spent many years living overseas — far from my America. This global lifestyle has deepened my love for our Founders’ wisdom and America’s core values and has sharpened my awareness of her generosity and unique culture. The Star Spangled Banner is a symbol that brings tears to my eyes. I have seen freedom-lovers in many countries wistfully sigh at my introduction — the words explain the ideals I represent, “I am an American.”

I pray today that Americans will continue to value their freedoms; that patriots will rise up to guard our unique liberties as they are threatened; that mothers and fathers will kindle patriotism in their own children by telling them the stories of noble men and women who sacrificed everything to build their country — the “Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.” As we kneel today to place a wreathe on a soldier’s grave, and offer our gratitude by flying the flag for which they died, may we
also find strength to make America better by taking pride in the work ahead, by silencing those who show contempt for freedom, and by humbly reveling in those
sacred words, “I am an American.”

DL - (camelseye)

Amen, DL, and let me add, I thank God I am an American!

Before the video presentation to wrap all of this up, let me allow what Barbara Simpson wrote this morning to tie this whole piece together:

"We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights." – Felix Frankfurter

So even though you may think it's corny, take a bit of time today to reflect on the blessings of freedom that we so take for granted. Give thanks to the military who served honorably and bravely with special prayers for troops in harm's way today.
Ultimately, they're keeping all of us and our loved ones safe and free. Don't risk losing freedom because you don't recognize or value the price that others paid for you.

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." – Elmer Davis.

Barbara Simpson, May 26, 2008, in "Remember our patriots"

And now, may I present Ray "Bubba" Sorenson, another patriot from Iowa. I was going to try to put a video together today to commemorate Memorial Day, but it would have been reinventing the wheel. I put the following video up last year, about Freedom Rock. This says it all about the good old patriotic Americans that value what we have. Let's just say it like this: Freedom Rocks!

I thank all of the contributors to this post for their selfless efforts to make this a day to honor not just our fallen heroes, but America. Thank you! God bless America, and God bless you!

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