By Staff Sgt. Joy ParianteJune 15, 2008
"We cherish too, the poppy red that grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies that blood of heroes never dies."
This poem was written by Moina Michael, the founder of the National Poppy movement, for all of the United States' fallen servicemembers. The VFW sells red poppies every year to do its part to remember their fallen comrades. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of our nation. Originally called Decoration Day, it was officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868. On May 30th of that same year, the first Memorial Day ceremony took place at the graves of Union and Confederate Soldiers. Today almost every state observes Memorial Day with parades and ceremonies designed to remember the sacrifices brave men and women have made for our country.
Each May, we as a nation stop to pay our respects to the servicemembers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Since the Revolutionary War, more than one million of America's sons and daughters have given their lives in the pursuit of a free nation and a safe world.
There are so many places where we can gather to show our respect for those who have fallen to defend the defenseless.
There's Arlington Nation Cemetery, the resting place of more than 200,000 servicemembers. There's also the long silent battlefields of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, where some of the most violent battles of the Civil War happened. And finally, there are the modern day battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, where those of us serving today have fought for freedom and lost comrades and friends.
We remember those who served beside us here in Iraq. We remember the Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given their lives to help liberate the Iraqi people and rebuild the country of Iraq.
Our military members, along with their Coalition partners have fought honorably in every region of the country. They have brought schools, food and water to towns in need. They've rebuilt the infrastructure of a country in ruin. We have come to the aid of any suppressed people. Military members have worked tirelessly to help the Iraqis reclaim and rebuild their shattered country. They have given their all in this mission.
Being in the military, we understand the risks and dangers in our line of work. And we do it anyway. We do it because we are Americans and patriots.
We follow in the footsteps of those before us who were willing to lay down their lives to improve the lives of others.
We continue to this day to embody the fighting spirit which has defined our nation for 231 years. Our departed warriors held fast to the American beliefs of liberty, democracy and freedom.