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Memorial Day holds a special, personal meaningPosted Saturday, May 26, 2012, at 7:08 AM
Consider when no one is looking, our military personnel are on the front lines, or training in ways to protect our freedoms and our way of life.
Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart.
My Dad was a World War II veteran, a guy who answered the call like so many others to leave his wife and family for several years and go off to a strange foreign land to fight for what this nation has believed in for several centuries.
In his case, he fought in New Guinea and the Philippines, a part of the Pacific Theater.
My Dad died when I young, before I ever got a chance to sit down and talk to him about his military service experiences. I have seen countless well-preserved black and white photographs that were snapped during his tour of duty.
By looking at these visual images, I have a feel for what my Dad endured thousands of miles away from his southern Indiana hometown in the early and mid-1940s.
I'm told he came back from the war a different and stronger man. A man who respected his country with patriotic love. A man who was never afraid to say proudly he was an American.
He was active in his hometown's American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War posts, both wonderful organizations that are doing their part to preserve patriotism in our communities. Many in those organizations will be carrying on the tradition this Memorial Day weekend of providing color guards, and firing their rifles in solemn 21-gun salutes at cemeteries across this nation where veterans are buried.
This Memorial Day holiday weekend is time for remembrance by all Americans.
It is a day that sets our nation apart from her peers.
It is a time when all of us reflect on the many sacrifices that have been made by our service men and women around the world.
As my personal reminder for what my Dad did and what many other military veterans, like him, have done for me, I carry one of his small metal dog tags on my key chain.
Many times when I feel lonely or down, I rub my index finger slowly over the raised letters that spell out his name "Schneider, Francis" and his ID number 35722314T4343A.
I can almost feel him speak to me in a comforting fatherly tone, saying simply 'it's going to be okay'.
It's a symbolic gesture, a reminder to me that my Dad was like many others who braved the terrors of a foreign war to do his part to protect the freedoms so many of us today take for granted.
Without these selfless heroes our nation would not be the standard-bearer of freedom for the world to see and respect. We would no longer be the force for good that has rescued countless individuals from threats of tyranny and the bonds of slavery.
My Dad died in 1958 -- four months after my fifth birthday ---- and I have few actual memories of him.
I do honor and respect him and cherish the thoughts that have been shared with me by others about this man, who was proud member of the U.S. Army Air Corps.
So this weekend, please be vigilant as the spotlight continues to shine on our military heroes ---- those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, those other brave warfighters ---- active and retired, those employees at our military bases ---- enlisted and civilian ---- especially at nearby NSA Crane, who have passed away.
These individuals all worked in the defense of this nation, just like my Dad,
So continue to live your blessed life, have fun and celebrate this weekend, but remember to take a few moments to consider what our deceased military personnel have done for each of us.
No words of homage are ever enough to give to each of them in return for what each has given to us.
When it comes to our respect for the military, it should be something that's sincere, from the heart and personal.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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