So many military holidays are mixed up and celebrated in a wrong manner, or simply forgotten and celebrated as a fun holiday whereby we are off work. Memorial Day is celebrated as the beginning of summer, usually with picnics and other fun events, but the reality is that Memorial Day is the day we honor, or should honor, those soldiers who fought in a war, and did not return home. They gave their all…their lives. We can never repay such a debt to the brave men and women who fought and died so that we and other nations might live free.
I didn’t personally lose a loved one in any war, but I know a few people who did, and my heart goes out to them on this day. The families of these brave soldiers who gave their lives, sacrificed too, and their sacrifice is no small one. I know that in my family, there were men who lost their lives in war. I just didn’t know them personally. I doubt if any family can be totally free of that loss, given all the wars there have been throughout history.
Memorial Day is so important, because without the sacrifice these men and women made, our world would be a totally different place today. Many of us have cringed at the changes that the current administration is trying to bring on this nation. I feels like an insult to the brave mn and women who fought and died for our freedom. Today is not a day to barbeque and celebrate the long weekend. In reality, it is a day to reflect on those we have lost in the horrible wars we have had to fight to keep this nation and others free. As you go about your day, please try to remember that fact, and thank a lost soldier’s family is you know one. We owe them and their lost soldier a great debt of gratitude. To anyone who has lost a loved one in battle, I say, “thank you for your sacrifice and that of your loved one.” It will never be forgotten.
Many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. They plan barbecues and trips with family because they have a three day weekend. Memorial Day, however, is really a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms in battle. While the work of every service member, whether in battle or in peacetime, is vital, and deserves recognition, Memorial Day is not the proper day to honor every veteran…Veterans Day is the day to honor veterans who came home from war, or who served in peacetime. Many people may consider that a technicality, but when you remember that the military is an institution of protocol and discipline. Things are always done in the proper order and for the proper reasons. That is what makes the military the disciplined, capable, and highly skilled organization that it is. Of course, to those of us who have never served, there is a feeling of wanting to honor all of our service members, and we don’t see the harm in adding those who weren’t killed in action, to the same memorial as those who didn’t make it home, but we would be wrong.
I have been listening to a book about the 8th Air Force in World War II. As the narrator tells the story of a bomber or fighter plane that will not be returning to base, and a crew who had a one way ticket to the war, I find myself thinking about how my dad, Allen Spencer must have felt each time the B-17 bomber, on which he was a top turret gunner, took off on another bomb run. The feeling in his gut as the plane took off, the prayers he was praying for himself and every other crew member on his and every other plane, the sickening feeling as the planes went down or exploded, and the long moments waiting and watching to see how many parachutes emerged from the stricken planes. I know that my dad and every other soldier who returned from the war, lost buddies over there. I don’t think you could ever forget those lost ones, and I don’t think you could see your way clear to honoring the living with the lost.
I know a number of soldiers, both retired and discharged, as well as some who are currently serving in the armed forces. These people know the meaning of each of the military holidays, and in fact, it was one of them who first told me the difference between the military holidays. Once you know the difference, you really don’t feel right about celebrating the wrong way, because each holiday has its proper purpose. This memorial Day, I honor all of our fallen soldiers of any war, and I pray for the loved ones they left behind when it was known that they got just a one way ticket to war. Your loved one was a great warrior, and you have every reason to be very proud. Honoring our fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day. Rest In Peace.
Memorial Day…an often misunderstood day, is actually a day to remember those military men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom…they gave their life in service to their country. Whether we know it or not, I’m sure that every family has lost a love one to war…some war in history. It might be many years in the past, and we may not even know about it at all, nevertheless, it is our duty to remember and to honor them, because they sacrificed their very lives that we might live in a free nation. It is so hard to think of someone that we care about, being killed in a foreign country while fighting a war.
I am one of those people who doesn’t personally know of a family member lost in a war, but my Uncle Jim Richards brother, Dale was lost on the beaches of Normandy France on July 30, 1944. It is incomprehensible to me to think of his family getting word of his passing, only to find out that they would have to foot the bill to bring him home for burial. There simply were not enough funds, and so Dale was buried at the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial, in Normandy, France. I can’t begin to imagine the awful day when the summer suddenly seemed as cold as ice. No parent should have to outlive their child, but with war comes death, and someone’s son or daughter will not be coming home again. I heard it put best in a song by Tim McGraw. The song, If you’re Reading This talks about getting a “one way ticket” over there. Unfortunately, far too many of our young men and women have been given that one way ticket, and while they paid with their lives, their families paid too. Their loved one is forever take from them, and they are left to mourn…to try to go on with their lives.
So many people look at Memorial Day as a holiday…a day to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings. This day is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season for cultural events. For the fashion conscious, it is seen as acceptable to wear white clothing, particularly shoes from Memorial Day until Labor Day. However, fewer and fewer people follow this rule and many wear white clothing throughout the year. But how should we, the living, best honor the lives of all those who have died in service to our country? On Memorial Day, it is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff from dawn until noon. 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. in reality, this is a day to reflect on the sacrifices made to keep us free. While we feel like we should be honoring veterans who have passed away, the reality is that their day is Veterans Day, which honors the veterans of all wars living or dead. Within the military, there is a very strict protocol concerning the days we honor military personnel. The other thing that we tend to find odd about Memorial Day, is that we can’t go to someone and thank them for their sacrifice, because the way they came to be honored is to have given their life for their country. All we can do is to honor their memory.
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.
Sometimes, the best of intentions can go horribly wrong, and when things go wrong, it becomes a disaster, and disaster is exactly what happened in Centralia, Pennsylvania when a fire was set to burn out an old landfill before the Labor Day holiday in 1962. The fire that was started on May 27, 1962, seemed like a simple solution to a big mess, but the landfill was also an old strip-mine pit, connected to a maze of abandoned underground mining tunnels full of coal. No one knows how the fire got to the coal vein below the ground, but once it did, the situation was out of control. Some called it careless trash incineration in a landfill next to an open pit mine, which ignited a coal vein, but no one expected the fire to crawl insidiously along the rich coal deposits that still laid deep in the ground. No one expected the burning coal to vent hot and poisonous gases up into town, through the basements of homes and businesses. Nevertheless, with dawn came the horror, as residents realized that the fire was not going to be extinguished, or in fact, ever burn itself out…at least not until all the interconnected coal veins in eastern Pennsylvania were finally burned out. As the underground fire worked its way under rows of homes and businesses, the threat of fires, asphyxiation, and carbon monoxide poisoning became a daily concern.
Probably one of the scariest situations was when a young man, Todd Domboski fell into a hot, steaming hole created by mine fire subsidence. He survived his 45 second ordeal by grabbing onto tree roots, and screaming for help until his cousin ran to his aid, reached into the void, and hoisted him out. Many Centralia residents had worried that a calamity like the one that nearly unfolded that Valentine’s Day in 1981. Four years earlier, Domboski’s father had told a reporter, “I guess some kid will have to get killed by the gas or by falling in one of these steamy holes before anyone will call it an emergency.” Never did he imagine that it would be his kid that would fall through and almost lose his life.
After the near tragedy, signs were posted to warn visitors to the Centralia area about the dangers of death by asphyxiation or being swallowed by the ground, but the old mining town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, was once home to more than 1,000 people. People with no place else to go. Now, it’s nothing more than a smoldering ghost town that’s been burning for over half a century. Though the town was able to extinguish the fire above ground, a much bigger inferno burned underneath, and it eventually spread its way under Centralia’s town center. The fire was so widespread, destructive and unending. It’s thought that there’s enough coal underground to fuel the fire for another 250 years. In 1980, a $42 million relocation plan incentivized most of the townspeople to relocate and most of the homes were demolished, leaving only about a dozen holdouts behind. Today, Centralia exists only as an eerie grid of streets, its driveways disappearing into vacant lots. Remains of a picket fence here, a chair spindle there. Still John Lokitis and 11 others who refused to leave, the occupants of a dozen scattered structures. Over the decades, the ground has opened up with sulfurous gases sometimes billowing out. The road along Highway 61 swells and cracks open. It is riddled with graffiti and hot to the touch. In the winter, snow melts in patches where the ground is warm. While a few holdouts still live there, I have to wonder what they are thinking. That is like slowly committing suicide, because you refuse to leave the past.
For those who have lost a veteran, in war or in peace, every day is a day to remember them. We loved them and now they are gone. We will forever miss them. Brave soldiers all, went out to right a wrong…to make the sacrifice necessary to make our nation free, and to fight oppression in our world. Some came home after serving their country and somehow managing to stay alive…against all odds, but some did not, and instead paid the ultimate price…their lives. All were brave soldiers, who knew what was being asked of them, knew the possibilities, and yet they went anyway, knowing that when they left home to serve, they might not be returning. They felt a calling to serve, and they bravely answered the call. Without the brave soldiers who have answered that call over the years, evil would have completely overtaken our world. There is still much evil out there, but it is our prayers and our soldiers that help to keep it at bay.
I am one of the fortunate ones. My dad and other loved ones came home from their wars. I have never felt the sting of losing a soldier in battle, but I have known those who have, and it breaks my heart for them. Each of them bravely moves forward with their lives, carrying with them the memories of their loved one, lost in battle. Little routines like jewelry with their loved one’s name on it, a decal on their car, or a flag in their yard, remind them of their loved one…somehow keeping them close, even though they are gone. They visit the grave, some to talk to their loved one, others to simply sit and reminisce about the past, but all do the things they do for the same reason…to remember their brave soldier, so tragically lost to the ravages of war.
Whether we have lost someone in battle, or our soldier died after leading a long life, each day that is set aside to remember their service is a special day to us. It doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy the day off or have a barbeque…it just means that we really think about the reasons that we are free to do these things. My own dad loved barbeques, drives to the lake or the mountains, and camping on the long weekends, so why would we not do those things now that he is living in Heaven. Nevertheless, we also take flowers, spinners, wind chimes, and of course, a flag to place on my parents grave, as well as the graves of all our other loved ones. It is a tradition that keeps them in our remembrance, and after all, the most important part of Memorial Day is to remember those we have lost, especially our brave soldiers. So today, we salute all of our soldiers, living and dead. We thank you for your brave service. We will never forget. Happy Memorial Day to all.
Our country has been involved in so many wars in its relatively short history, protecting both our freedom and many other countries from the oppression imposed by so many evil dictators and nations. Some people don’t think the United States should be the guardian of the nations, but when push comes to shove, the United States is always the one they call to come in and save them. In all reality, the only countries who wish we would just stay out of things, are the ones who have overstepped their boundaries, and are trying to do evil in the helpless nations they have occupied.
Of course, no military machine can function without the sacrifice in time and lives of people. Military men and women who are willing to make that sacrifice are a rare breed indeed. True, in years past there was a draft, but even then, there were those who volunteered, like my dad and many others. They saw a need, and knew that they had to answer the call to duty.
Over the course of the major wars the United States has been involved in beginning at World War I, we have lost a total of 619,300 men and women. That is an astounding number of people. Fighting evil is a costly business, both in money, and more importantly in the lives we have lost. Nevertheless, if we allow evil to prevail, we are in a far worse position. That is something every soldier knows all too well. It is what brings them to the point of making the decision to serve…to fight, and give their lives if necessary. It isn’t that they don’t know what they are getting into, because they do. They know that as a soldier, they will be taking the ultimate chance with their life, and they know that they may lose their life. And yet they serve. That is the picture of a true hero.
There are those who condemn our soldiers for their sacrifice, those who protest, and scream hate at them, but what they don’t really understand is that their very right to protest, scream, and even hate, comes from the fight our soldiers have waged to protect that very freedom. It is a tough job, and often thankless, but they fight because they can see what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to steal the freedoms of another human being, and it is wrong for them to try to force their will on others. Soldiers have the vision to see this, and even when hate is aimed at them, they will fight for the rights of those who hate. Yes, soldiers are a rare breed, and they are heroes. They deserve our respect, and they deserve the honor and respect that this day is all about. Happy Memorial Day!! Be sure to thank a Veteran today.
Memorial Day…a day for remembering the fallen soldiers, began after the Civil War, which has laid claim to the most war dead in any war in history. Most people don’t know that. When you think about the fact that so many of the fallen soldiers in the Civil War died gruesome deaths, torn to pieces by cannon balls or musket guns. Medical care was minimal, at best and nonexistent in many cases. There were no dog tags or DNA testing, so many of the soldiers killed were never identified. They died without dignity, after giving their live so nobly in the fight for freedom.
Ours was a nation in mourning, with no way to fully express the depth of its feelings. Originally called Decoration Day, this day was set aside as a day to decorate the graves of war dead, giving them the honor and dignity they did not have at the time of their death.
Since its inception on May 5, 1867, Memorial Day, as it is now called, has changed in many ways. Many people simply think of it as a day off from work…a good day to party or gather for picnics with friends and family. They forget that since the Civil War, our nation has been involved in many wars and police actions, as they have been called since World War II. People notoriously try to block out those things that make them feel uncomfortable. Sad…that we could so easily forget the sacrifices that have been made to give them the freedom to choose not to honor the men who fought to give them that freedom. Sad that we could be so quick to forget.
Today, those of us who celebrate Memorial Day as Decoration Day have also added our loved ones who are not veterans, and I believe that is fitting too. So, for me, I honor my dad, my father-in-law, nieces, aunt, uncles, grandparents, and cousins who have gone before me. I love you all.
As is the case in most families, we have a number of heroes, both living and deceased, in our family. Memorial Day was originally set aside as a day to remember our military heroes. It has evolved into a day to remember those loved ones who have left us too…even if they weren’t in the military. I know there are those who have served that I am unaware of, and I first want to thank every member of the military past or present for their brave service to our country. Freedom isn’t free, and it was your dedication, bravery, and sacrifice that have made it possible for us to enjoy our freedom.
My grandfather and my great Uncle Ted both served during World War I. My dad , Uncle Jim Wolfe, and Uncle George served during World War II. My Aunt Laura and Aunt Ruth also helped during the World War II by working in the shipyards welding ships…a man sized job that was being handled very well, but a group of outstanding women. Others in the military were my Uncle Larry, Bob’s Uncle Eddie and Uncle Butch, my cousins Larry, Greg and Michael, Bob’s cousins Sheila and Pat, Bob’s brother Ron, Bob’s brother-in-law Lynn, and my nephews Rob and Allen.
Whether our military men and women served in wartime or peacetime, doesn’t matter. It takes great bravery to even sign up for the military, because you never know when war can break out and you will be given the call to action. Our military men and women sign up not only to fight if necessary, but to give their very lives as a sacrifice for others. Their everyday life, the places they live, the job they have, and the hours they work are all things that they give up control over. Many have missed the births of children, wedding anniversaries, and family birthdays, because they were far away from home serving their country. The things we take for granted that we will be able to attend, they know with certainty that they will not be able to attend.
Such sacrifice…such selflessness…such dedication!! These are all a part of the very makeup of these individuals, and something many of us never give any thought to. These people turned a part of their lives over to their leaders, in order to make our homeland, and the countries of other people a safer place to be. They fought for people they didn’t even know, while leaving their own loved ones behind to answer the call of duty. Today is Memorial Day, and I want to thank these, and all our military men and women for your courage…your selflessness…your strength…and your dedication!! God bless each and every one of you!!