Memorial Day…the day we set aside to remember the heroes of our wars, who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we hold dear. The men and women who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor come to mind, as do those lost on the beaches of Normandy, but there are so many others. From the fliers, to the foot soldiers, to the sailors…men and women, from the Revolutionary War, to the War on Terror, have set aside their goals in life, left their families at home, pushed back their fears, and done their duty to serve their country, and for so many of them, it was a one way ticket over there. They fought and died so that someone they didn’t know could be free and have the rights that so many take for granted. They looked away when they were protested, but deep down they wondered why people didn’t understand. They tried not to watch the news of death and destruction. They just did their job, until they lost their lives in a war they wished had never started.
Most of us knew very few soldiers who lost their lives in defense of their country, and some of us may not have known any at all, even though some of our ancestors might have been casualties of a war. I think that sometimes the families of the lost feel alone in their grief. Unless someone has been in that position, they have a difficult time really understanding the depth of the loss. People try to be understanding, imagining how they would feel if it was them, but the reality is that our imaginations are not that good. Those who have lost a loved one to war can never forget the loss or the grief they feel. Grief has no timetable, and some pain just never goes away. No pain is more horrible than losing your child, and losing them in war, seriously compounds that pain.
Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first called, started three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868. It was established by the head of an organization of Union veterans…the Grand Army of the Republic. Decoration Day was a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Major General John A Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. It was a day for all citizens to remember the sacrifice of the brave fallen heroes. And to let the families know that their fallen soldier would ever be forgotten. In honor of all the fallen, may you rest in peace. Thank you for your great sacrifice. Your nation is grateful.
Many men and women have served in the military over the centuries, since the United States became a nation, and in the years that we fought for our independence. The weapons they used are as varied as they are, but no less deadly to the enemy. Their uniforms are different, and some may seem very strange to us, but each is easily recognizable as a military uniform, and you knew that they had served their country. Each has made the sacrifice…leaving loved ones behind at home, to go off and fight in a battle that in many cases didn’t seem like it was their own, yet they had to go, because they couldn’t leave those oppressed people to battle on their own, because they knew it was a battle they could not win alone. They went, because it was a matter of duty. It was a duty they could not ignore…their hearts would not let them ignore.
Today’s military is not a required job, there is no draft, although there could be if it became necessary, and our young men are required to register for the draft when they turn eighteen, just in case a draft became necessary. Nevertheless, today’s military men and women choose to take on the causes of a war ridden world, because they can’t bear to leave a people or nations unprotected. That takes a special kind of person…that one who puts themselves in harm’s way…by choice. They are a person to be admired and respected. I don’t say that those who do not join have done anything wrong, because they have not, but like the police officer, EMT, and fire fighter, this unique group of men and women have taken up a cause, and made it their own.
My dad, and many of my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins fall into that category of military personnel, and I am proud of each and every one of them for all they have done to make this world a little bit safer place. Their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed, nor will it ever be forgotten. Today, I want to thank all veterans everywhere, living and dead, for the sacrifice you have made to give me and all other Americans the freedoms that we enjoy, and to make this world a little bit safer for all the people who live in it. I know I can’t picture all of you, as you so richly deserve, but know that you are remembered, whether you are pictured here or not. Thank you all for your service!! God bless each and every one of you!!
I have not seen my cousin Shirley for about 30 years, but recently we have reconnected due to my mother’s desire to give Shirley our grandma’s wedding gown. Shirley is the oldest granddaughter of my dad’s and her mom’s mother, and as such, the wedding gown should go to her. It had been left in my dad’s care. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to give the dress to Shirley, but we had no way to get a hold of her. God takes care of the things we aren’t able to, and almost immediately, Shirley’s son, Larry showed up in a family tree search I was doing in Ancestry.com. He was searching too, and we connected. He got me in touch with Shirley, and then we and several other family members connected on Facebook. It is amazing how one little step can change the lives of so many people.
Since reconnecting with Shirley I have learned several things about her. Shirley is a patriotic American, who believes in the Constitution and the freedoms and rights it gives to each of us. She believes in hard work and being able to keep what you earn. She believes in the right to keep and bear arms. As I said, the Constitution and all its rights and freedoms. She and I are very much alike that way. It makes me proud that my cousin and I share our conservative American beliefs.
I also know that Shirley loves living up in the mountains, away from the crowds in town. That is not so unusual in that her family lived outside Casper on a piece of land in the Dempsey Acres area when she was a little girl growing up. I guess you could say that country living was in her blood. After leaving Casper, and trying some big cities, the family would move to the mountains of Washington. Shirley is a hard working woman who likes the simple things like the birds and other mountain sounds of the summer morning.
Today is Shirley’s birthday. We are sending you birthday wishes across the miles. We are thankful that our families have reunited again, though we have not yet seen each other in person yet. We hope your day is filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Happy birthday dear cousin!! We love you!!