Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is an American federal holiday for mourning U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is observed on the last Monday of May.
As the Mortuary Affairs NCO at my unit, I became involved with making final arrangements for several comrades that died while serving. In one special case, I was assigned as a Family Liaison to the surviving family members, assisting them to arrange funeral details, military death benefits, grief counseling, and other personal issues. Remembering these Airmen and their surviving family members on Memorial Day has a poignant meaning for me.
There are many veterans that separated from the military through retirement or end of contract and continued to serve their nation and their communities selflessly until death. It is these people that I also wish to honor as well on Memorial Day. I urge others to use this day to reflect on what it means to serve. To reflect on them is to remember what they held sacred. God, family, and country. As they upheld these values, we should as well or their loss was in vain.
We have an obligation to never forget the sacrifice of those that served. All too often we take for granted the sacrifices of those that fought for our nation. It’s nothing new, as the poem below, written in the late 1800’s demonstrates:
“A Time For Prayer”
“In times of war and not before,
God and the soldier we adore.
But in times of peace and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.”
– Rudyard Kipling
We, as a nation, should feel ashamed to laud our military when there’s a war, but neglect them when we’re safe and secure. As we all have heard, freedom is not free, but paid for through the sacrifices of our military.
Keep the traditions of Memorial Day. Visit the veteran cemeteries and reflect on their sacrifices. Teach your children to do the same.
Of all the graves that you see, remember that each one of these people were willing to lay down their life for the benefit of others. We owe them some reflection on what inspired them to act in such a way. None served for fame or fortune. They felt an obligation to serve their fellow countrymen and the nation that gave them an opportunity to thrive. They gave all and a grateful nation must ensure that their legacy is honored and endures.
We, at the American Legion have taken this as our First Pillar of our chartered existence. We care for our veterans and their families. We will never forget them.
American Legion Post TH01
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
“The American Legion: Veterans Strengthening America.”