Remembering Memorial Day

Frank DeMartini

Memorial Day Grave

Decorated Grave

This is an amended and updated reprint of an article I wrote in May of 2009.

Today, I would like to speak a little about Memorial Day.
It was originally called Decoration Day and began after the Civil Way in 1868 as a way to pay tribute to those who had died defending the country. The original tradition, begun in Waterloo, NY, was to decorate the graves of the fallen military. Hence, the name Decoration Day.
It has evolved beyond that into much more.  It is on this day we remember everything the military has done for us.  We remember those that died in the Battle of Gettysburg.  We remember those that died storming the beaches in Normandy.  We remember those that lost their lives in the Tet Offensive.  We remember our fallen brethren in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And, we should remember those that have long been forgotten with time.
These are our sons and daughters and ancestors that have given all so that our way of life could survive.  We should not protest against them.  We should honor them.  So, on Monday, when you are attending a Memorial Day BBQ or parade, try to remember why you are there.  Remember, all of the good we have in this country and those that gave all for that good.  And, remember those who died keeping this country together approximately 150 years ago during the Civil War. There would be no “United” States without them.
We are one proud nation.  The whole world looks up to us and wants to emulate us regardless of the current Administration.  This is still the country where most of the world wants to live.  Regardless of which party is in power, no one leaves here for greener pastures.  These are the greener pastures and on Memorial Day, we must remember those who have given their lives to keep them that way.
©2011 by Frank T. DeMartini. Permission to use excerpts will be freely given upon request.

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2 Responses to Remembering Memorial Day

  1. Anonymous on May 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

    The generations we honored this Memorial Day have dealt with crises, they got through recessions and depressions, participate in the cruel and inhuman conflict on the front lines of WWI, if any are left, and WWII. They have persevered, even ended, the reign of dictators, despots, and tyrants. They have endured and raised above corrupt political dynasties, they have shared the sacrifice and pain. And they still soldiered on.

    They are a replay of America past and the promise of America future. These generations were and are defined not by what they lost in property, riches, possessions or lives but what they guarded, protected and held dear, that being “principle” and our Republic.

    Over 3000 died on 9/11/2001. Were we, are we, in a “war on terrorism?” Do they qualify as heroes under the definition of those who died in “any war”? “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor.” How many have died for us?

    Memorial Day honors all who died in any war or military action in defense of our great nation. These conflicts include, the American Revolution 1775, the War of 1812, and
    The Mexican-American War. The American Civil War, (1861) the deadliest in American national history, caused 620,000 soldier deaths and an undetermined number of civilian casualties, ended slavery in the United States, restored the Union by settling the issues of nullification and secession and strengthened the role of the Federal government. America was and still is still in turmoil.

    The Spanish-American War reports total troops exceeded 300k with battle and non theater deaths in the range of 2.5k. In 1918 four million were drafted for the conflict called World War I. The estimated dead United States soldiers are reported close to one million. In 1938 Hitler was overrunning Europe and we in America were paralyzed with appeasement and an unwillingness to confront evil, and then Pearl Harbor. Blackouts, the search lights and the radio commentary about German submarines off of the west coast around 1943 are real memories.

    “World War II was a world wide military conflict; the amalgamation of two separate conflicts, one beginning in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the other beginning in Europe in 1939 with the invasion of Poland. This global conflict split a majority of the world’s nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The estimate of dead from this conflict range from 50 to 70 million of which 2 million are estimated to be Americans.”

    And then there was the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom 2001, Iraqi Freedom 2003. How many dead there?

    It is hard to listen to the daily roll calls of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, gone from the front pages of our news papers-a tribute to hypocrisy, without a sincere and heartfelt expression of love, honor, appreciation and thanks for those laying down their lives for me, mine and yours.

    Legend has it that Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller USMC tried to reenlist at the age of 70. Every branch of service has their form of Semper fidelis, “always faithful.” These, who we honor, were “always faithful” and died with a sacred and earned expectation that what they left to us, with us and for us would be protected, cherished and honored.

    Those who died in the above conflicts insured that we could commemorate Memorial Day 2011. They did their job magnificently. Those who we honor on Memorial Day made that choice, made the right choice and paid the ultimate price. We have only the obligation to deserve, honor and respect their sacrifice. Has anyone said a prayer, even a short “silent prayer”? It is not too late. How are we doing?

    When one feels patriotic, or has skin the game, has lost loved ones, the meaning of Memorial Day is more immensely acute, emotional. This, our freedom, is all possible because and only because of those we honor on Memorial Day. How unselfish of them. So very often we do not deserve these champions of our Republic but the human spirit delivers them anyway.

    We have yet to learn, to understand, to appreciate and embrace the true, the deep philosophical meaning of that famous utterance from just one of the infinite supply of true America heroes that phase “I regret I have but one life to give for my country.”

    While we honor the heroes of our past prepare for the difficult task of carrying that memory, that “cause’, forward for history is now being written and rewritten. We do not honor their memory by giving away that for which they died. Doing the “right” thing has a price.

    “The shot that was heard around the world” was reported to have started in a church, the Black Robe legion, with a pastor, a congregation and a shared belief in liberty that propelled them out of their pews and forward into unspeakable violence and death, for a cause that was just. Had they hesitated, had to rationalize; needed more time to think, abhorred violence more that their freedom, the world does not know what America would have then looked like today. Yes, the meek will inherit the earth; and what will it look like when that happens?

    How do we honor those heroes on this Memorial Day? Pick up their “cause”, it is our “cause”, and soldier on.

  2. Happy Memorial Day | Hooray For CHANGE! on May 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    [...] 1882, “Memorial Day” was first used in lieu of “Decoration Day,” but wouldn’t become more common until after [...]

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