Remembering Memorial Day 2014
Nobody likes war. From Normandy almost 70 years ago to Kandahar province in Afghanistan, U.S. men and women have taken the fight to the enemy.
Those who have served under the duress of battle know what these military men and women encounter on a daily basis. Those who have served in a noncombat assignment in the Reserves or National Guard or in the active military may have never faced death directly but who have friends who did. Those with no military experience have never experienced the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood of serving in the military and what heroic sacrifices “your buddies” will perform.
The first observance occurred on May 30, 1868, but since 1971, Congress designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, thus creating a long weekend.
The United States was trying to heal itself from four bitter years of fighting during the Civil War. Almost a half-million soldiers perished. Three years after the end of the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic established what was called Decoration Day in order to give family and friends a time to mourn the deceased and to decorate their graves with flowers.
The first Memorial Day crowd at Arlington National Cemetery drew approximately 5,000 people, the same number that will attend the ceremony this year.
After World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to recognize those men and women who died in all American wars. Americans also use the day to remember their deceased friends and relatives.
As Americans, we have lost sight of what this day means. Memorial Day should be a time for serious reflection for those who have served this country and gave the ultimate sacrifice — their lives. Loading up the camper and boat to head to Lahontan or driving to the mall for the latest Memorial Day specials should not be the primary reasons to celebrate this weekend.
During World War I, we lost almost 176,000 servicemen and the number increased to 407,000 during World War II. More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives in Korea and Vietnam, and about 6,717 have paid the ultimate sacrifice in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, this Memorial Day weekend, remember those who have given their lives for this country so that you can enjoy your freedoms. Thank those who currently serve, whether they’re stationed at Naval Air Station Fallon or attend drills in the National Guard or Reserves. They, too, have put their lives on the line, ready to ship off to some foreign land and willing to put their lives in harm’s way. Better yet, attend one of three county Memorial Day observances and honor those who served.
Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.