Memorial Day

 

This morning I read an article telling how many memorials built to honor those who died or served in the First World War are falling into disrepair. With a tight economy, many can’t be repaired. World War One was known as the Great War and the “War to End All Wars.” Little did we know.

Men and women have always gone off to serve, prepared to give what Lincoln called “the last full measure.” They should be remembered, but memorial buildings and monuments aren’t necessary. The second most impressive memorial I’ve ever seen is Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknowns. We don’t know names, but we know their spirit. We remember.

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By far the most impressive memorial that too many of us have seen is very temporary. Combat boots with an inverted M-16, dog tags and a helmet. This was the memorial for the service members we had lost from our base. It seems like there was always more than one.

The base theater/chapel was where these were placed and as the military members entered, the placed their rifles under the pews – bumping the boxes of tissues that had already been prepositioned there. The lost member might be from any service – we all were working together.

Friends spoke of the fallen. We’d file past the memorials and render a slow salute; commanders would leave their unit coin as a tribute to each of the fallen.

An hour after the troops left, the memorials were gone.

It’s what comes from the heart that remembers these heroes, not necessarily buildings or stadiums. So today, remember – from the heart.

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4 responses to “Memorial Day

  1. kotikojafaridze

    Reblogged this on kotiko jafaridze.

  2. Rick Martinez

    Yes, Steve, you’re absolutely correct that our fallen American soldiers–heroes all–remind us to see with our heart. We all give some: THEY gave
    all. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and words.

    Our fallen American men and women–black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and
    others–remind me of two other significant points for which their death must not be in vain: 1) They fought side by side together on the battle field, but
    perhaps when they came home they saw the same groupings of people fighting against one another; and 2) Memorial Day can mean “Remember Me”…each time we remember them “they live forever.”

  3. Absolutely true. Here in NZ, the standard intonation on our memorial day is ‘We will remember them’. And we do. For various reasons, many of our war memorials are actually public buildings – hosptals (Hastings NZ), libraries (Lower Hutt NZ) and so forth, in addition to obelisks in most town centres, all kept in good order. Historians have wondered why we chose to remember our wars mostly through public structures that had community uses; but what it means in practical sense is that the memory of the sacrifices made by our fathers and grandfathers, and by some of us today even, becomes part of our everyday lives – as it should be.

    • Well put. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand on my way to Antarctica where I worked with some Kiwi military members. Your country seems to remember those who served in the past with continuing service – a beautiful link.
      Steve

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