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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
Pause to honor our fallen heroesPosted Friday, May 23, 2008, at 7:16 PM
Since I was a kid, pausing on Memorial Day to honor our military war dead became as much a holiday weekend tradition as listening to the live radio broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 race.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
Pausing on this day and visiting the cemetery where my grandfather, dad, and two uncles, who were war veterans, was always something my family did.
I've tried to carry on that practice not because I'm noble, but because it is the right thing to do.
After becoming a journalist more than three decades ago, I often made a practice of volunteering to cover the various community Memorial Day services in towns where I've worked.
I've noticed a real disheartening trend at a lot of different places.
Not many people turn out and attend these simple, somber services.
Why is that?
Are we all too busy?
Have we forgotten all the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears these men and women gave and are continuing to give for each of us?
Freedom is a personal thing that doesn't come easy and as history has shown us, never without bloodshed.
Do we cherish our freedoms that are earned and maintained by the military service of those young and old -- in past years, presently and in the future?
Military work is done both on the battlefield and on the home front.
This community -- unlike many others across the nation -- owes much to the military for the jobs it has provided and will continue to provide for our county, cities and towns.
I don't know the answers, but I do know that more people should attend these kinds of observances if at all possible.
They are usually conducted at graveyards or in front of a town's monument that honors the brave soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
Locally, the Greene County Veteran's Council will stage its yearly Community Memorial Day observance at 3 p.m. on Monday on the northwest lawn of the Greene County Courthouse lawn in Bloomfield.
The format is usually the same.
There is a prayer time. The names of all the military veterans who have passed away in the last year are read and a bell is rung for each. A short reflective speech is given and then a 21-gun salute and then Taps is played.
It's an emotional time for me I have to admit.
Hearing the sound of Taps makes me reflect on my long passed Dad, who earned a Purple Heart during his U.S. Army duty in the south Pacific during World War II. I often regret that he died when I was so young -- just over 5-year-old. I would have loved to been able to talk to him as I was growing up about his war and life experiences during his military years.
According to information published at www.usamemorialday.org, there are several things all of us can do to pay homage to our war dead.
* By visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
* By visiting war or veteran's memorials.
* By flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
* By flying the POW/MIA Flag as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
* By participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
* By renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.
Memorial Day is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May -- passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.
Please take the time this Memorial Day -- no matter where you are at and pause and remember our war dead. They did pay the ultimate sacrifice for you, and the children and grandchildren of past, present and future generations.
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