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.


 
 

 

Free Tax Services available on Davis-Monthan AFB

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax center opened its doors today for Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve and Public Health personnel. There are 35 volunteers at the VITA office to include 27 tax preparers with the ability to conduct 10 appointments at a time. “The volunteers here are IRS certified tax preparers,” according to Skip...
 
 

Just American: A century of Black life

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) — Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted Harvard-trained historian Carter Woodson....
 
 

Local Briefs February 27, 2015

Scholarship applications available Davis-Monthan Officer’s Spouses’ Club and the Enlisted Spouses Association are accepting scholarship applications from  Military Dependents who are: -Spouses pursuing an Undergraduate or graduate degree -Graduating High School Seniors Application packets are available at: Davis-Monthan Thrift Shop, Airman and Family Readiness Center, School Liaison Office...
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

D-M puts its agencies to the test

An aircraft crash training exercise was held at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range here Feb. 19. The simulated crash site was scattered throughout a two mile radius. “The idea was to test the base’s capabilities...
 
 

Defeating “Monster Mouth”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski) Airman Jessika Silva-Gomez, 355th Dental Squadron dental assistant, helps a child sort out foods that are beneficial to dental hygiene during a presentation at the Finley Child Development Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Feb. 24. Personnel from the 355th DS provided examples of proper...
 
 

Why Air Force Smart Operations – or AFSO?

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – RANDOLPH, TEXAS — Confucius once said that in order for a man to move a mountain he must first begin by carrying away its small stones. Now, if one is to imagine the Air Force as that giant mountain, how does an Airman begin trying to move it? That is,...
 




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