Memorial Day is a time to remember men and women who have served our country with their very lives so we can be free. The idea started when women in the south were decorating graves of their loved ones who died in the Civil War. Major General John Logan in 1868 told his posts to decorate graves "with the choicest flowers of springtime." It was a way to heal the broken land of the painful years of Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Waterloo New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966. Congress passed a Holiday Act in 1971 to ensure a three day weekend of Federal holidays. A resolution was passed on Dec of 2000 to have a moment of silence at 3:00 in the afternoon to show respect for those who have died for our country over the years.
As our nation pauses to reflect, every American can think of a relative, past ancestor, or loved one who has served our country. I will remember my dad who served in WWII for four years in Australia with United States Naval Intelligence and was discharged with the rank of Chief Specialist with the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was a life member of VFW Past 8911.
He was one of the lucky ones who survived WWII. Many families lost loved ones who were never able to come home to start a family. We took Grandpa to the USS Arizona Memorial located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Memorial Day over a decade ago. It is visited by more than one million people annually. It marks the resting place of over 1,102 sailors killed during the attack by Japanese forces which led to the United States involvement to World War II. It is only accessible by boat. The memorial contains an opening in the floor overlooking the sunken decks. Visitors pay their respects by tossing flowers in honor of the fallen sailors. To this day, oil can still be seen rising from the wreckage to the surface of the water. The oil seeping is sometimes referred to as "the tears of Arizona" or "black tears."
My dad had enlisted before we actually declared war and was on a submarine translating Morris Code. His submarine was nearly discovered by the Japanese. We took a tour of what it was like to live on a submarine in such close quarters. Alex and Michael were able to see what Grandpa endured. But he didn't complain and was grateful to be able to sacrifice
for our country as was the attitude of that generation.
Our family took a trip on Memorial Day to Washington D. C. to learn about our nation's history. We visited the WWII Memorial to honor soldiers who served in the War who preserved our freedom from the try-any of Hitler. We had visited the beaches of Normandy on the anniversary of D- Day, June 6, 1944, the summer before. Michael and I wrote in the sand, "You did not die in vain." Tears fell to my eyes remembering the bravery of the soldiers as they were trying to take over the beach. Germans were stationed with their guns ready to gun down anyone who dared to come. The soldiers knew it had to be done to overthrow the Germans and establish a stronghold. The moment was captured in the movie, "Saving Private Ryan."
We visited the Vietnam Memorial and looked up the names of neighborhood friends who gave their lives in the war. As you saw the names of fallen soldiers stretched out on the expansive stone wall, the sacrifice of so many could not be ignored. They grew up in our neighborhoods with a desire to have their own families with children. So many mothers and dads remember their children with love and devotion. Reefs were laying in front of their loved ones names. Many were crying as they remembered who they lost.
This Memorial Day I want to remember the families of over 6,000 American soldiers who have died of all ages in Afghanistan and Iraq. I pray for comfort of the wives who have lost their husbands. I pray for peace for the mothers who lost their beloved sons. I pray a special guidance for the children who have lost their mom or dad. The sacrifice they have made does not go unnoticed.