Salutes & Awards

May 22, 2014

Memorial Day: What does it mean to you?

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Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
Staff Sgt. Jared Nanneman, 173rd Fighter Wing, places a flag on the graves of veterans.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — What does Memorial Day mean for you? For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. We fire our grills up and plan trips to the lake–there is palpable excitement as we discuss how to spend the extra-long weekend.

But Memorial Day is much more.

“Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have come before us and the sacrifices they made for our country,” said Master Sgt. Michael Shirar from the173rd Fighter Wing. “I think it is important because those that have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve the respect and admiration of their peers and their fellow citizens.”

Eighteen Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing headed to Mount Calvary cemetery in Klamath Falls, Ore. May 22 on a frigid morning to pay their respects to the veterans laid to rest there. They carefully searched the rows of headstones for the names of veterans and solemnly placed an American flag on the graves. When they were done nearly 300 flags waved across the cemetery.

This is an annual project for the Airmen of the 173rd Fighter Wing, who have been laying flags on the veterans’ graves on Memorial Day for the last ten years, said event coordinator Master Sgt. David Smith.

There was a general consensus among the Airmen as to why they wanted to be a part of this event.

Master Sgt. Jeff Horton said, “I am here to show my respect for the veterans who came before us.”

“I believe I have a personal responsibility to honor those that have served their country in the past,” added Shirar

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was officially observed May 30, 1868 after General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the creation of the day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in honorarium. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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