Commentary: What Memorial Day means to me
May 28, 2009
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - As a Soldier in the United States Army and having previously served as a public servant in my local community, I hold the month of May close to my heart.
The month of May, represents so many things for so many people in my hometown. It typically signifies the start of the summer season in Upstate New York. The public pools open, the Little League season begins, and most of the golf courses will open officially.
For me the month of May has so much significance if only for Memorial Day. Declared by congress in 1971, the observance has been practiced since 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan. The observance, originally called Decoration Day and observed on May 30, was a day in which the graves of Civil War veterans would be decorated. After World War I the observance was changed from a day to honor Civil War Veterans, to a day to honor all those who have served our nation.
Back home, a small group of veterans that I know will use this day to remember their fallen comrades. Most of these heroes are veterans of the Vietnam War, Korean War, or World War II.
The day was set aside to honor those who have worn this uniform before us. When the security of our nation was threatened, some made the commitment to defend our nation and our way of life. Some of those Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines never returned home, and we must never forget them.
Being deployed, you think a lot harder of how we honor our fallen. This Memorial Day I will certainly take time to reflect on the memories of those who have gone before me. Although I may not know them, they are still family, and their service and sacrifice will always leave a lasting impression on me.
President George Washington once wrote "the willingness of future generations to serve in our military will be directly dependent upon how we have treated those who have served in the past." This also applies to the way we treat those who have fallen in service.
The next Memorial Day I spend at home, I will participate in ceremonies honoring those who have given their life in freedom's name. Nothing can be done to bring back those that are gone; however we can honor their memories. All of this is a small token of appreciation for what these heroes have sacrificed.