Commentary

May 22, 2014

Putting the ‘memorial’ back into Memorial Day

Commentary by Air Force Col. David Stimac
3rd Maintenance Group commander

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — A few years ago I was asked to speak at a Memorial Day ceremony for a retirement community in St. Petersburg, Fla. I am not sure why I was asked, as I certainly did not feel qualified to speak to a crowd of proud veterans on Memorial Day. I am sure it was the simple fact I was an active duty member of the armed forces.

I accepted the offer and desperately tried to come up with a topic to discuss. I was a little embarrassed, because I really did not know anything about the history of Memorial Day.

As with many Americans, Memorial Day has simply become another three-day weekend. It is the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer; it is baseball, boating, barbeques and hanging out at the beach. It is a major shopping day with lots of sales. It is also the first day the fashion conscious among us are allowed to wear white. Needless to say, I had to do some research to learn more about Memorial Day.

Three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union Veterans established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

Union Army Maj. Gen. John Logan declared Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. Logan ordered his posts to decorate the graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime.”

“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance,” Logan said. “Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Many cities have claimed to be the “birthplace” of Decoration Day. On May 5, 1868, the community of Waterloo, N.Y., hosted a ceremony honoring local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. In 1966, Congress declared Waterloo, the birthplace of Decoration Day and renamed it Memorial Day.

It was not until after World War I that Memorial Day was expanded to honor those who had died in all American wars and in 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday on the last Monday in May.

Sadly, many Americans have lost this connection with Memorial Day. For many, the spirit of remembrance is absent. Many Americans have no experience with, or connection to, the military. We have fewer and fewer veterans to share their stories and many older veterans do not like to talk about their service.

What can we do? We can make all the difference in our families and in our communities by putting the “Memorial” back into Memorial Day. Congress has done its part by establishing “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” in 2000; encouraging all Americans to pause, wherever they are, at 3 p.m. Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.

I encourage everyone to learn more about the sacrifices of our veterans and share with others your experiences of serving in the military today. I am confident we all have a story to tell about someone we know who has paid the ultimate price while serving this country. Look up people like Air Force Capt. Derek Argel, Air Force Capt. Jeremy Fresques, Spc. Joseph Kennedy, Senior Airman Jonathan Yelner, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Kirven, and Pvt Robert Frantz, just to name a few. Share their stories and honor their service.

I will leave you with this last thought: on Monday and every Memorial Day after, honor our deceased veterans with the highest regard and deepest respect for their service and sacrifices that gave us the gift of freedom. May God bless them, their families and this great country of ours.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
12AF_pict

AFSOUTH medics arrive in Belize to facilitate obstetrics course

Three International Health Specialists and three non-governmental organization personnel supporting the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) arrived in Belize to facilitate the Global Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics Instruc...
 
 

355th FSS invites D-M to join intramurals

The 355th Force Support Squadron would like to invite all Active Duty and Department of Defense personnel to join the intramural sports program. The intramural sports program is an organized sports competition designed to meet the needs of all personnel beginning at the lowest levels. Active duty personnel have priority in all programs as determined...
 
 

55th Electronic Combat Group

The 55th Electronic Combat Group provides combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders. The group also plans and executes information operations, including information warfare and electronic attack, in support of theater campaign plans.
 

 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. –  Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you...
 
 

‘Final Rule’ offers broader mental health care coverage

WASHINGTON – TRICARE military health plan beneficiaries will now have access to both TRICARE-certified mental health counselors and supervised mental health counselors, a Defense Health Agency official said here today. In an interview with DoD News, Dr. John Davison, DHA’s behavioral health branch chief, said the so-called “Final Rule,” published yesterday, will go into effect...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin