Monday, May 28

Honoring Sacrifices: Memorial Day

"We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them." — Francis A. Walker

Last year, on Memorial Day, I included a list of nonprofit organizations working to preserve the memories of fallen soldiers who served in the United States Armed Forces. These men and women, who served their country and gave the ultimate sacrifice, have earned our admiration as all those who serve do.

This year, I wanted to draw attention to something else. Often times the sacrifices they make in service to our country are not exclusively their own. As sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, they are other people who also bare these sacrifices in life.

Among the best known survivors are American War Mothers, especially those distinguished as Gold Star Mothers, women who have lost a son or daughter in service to their county. And it is their stories that help put the sacrifices of our soldiers into perspective.



And along with these women who carry on in the face of tragedy, are the men and women who served alongside them. There are more than 23 million of them, veterans of the Armed Forces who live, work, and play in your hometown. They remember, unable to forget the sacrifices made for and by others.



And along with them, there are hundreds and thousands of children who made sacrifices too. To help them cope and learn to live with loss is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides an immediate connection; and Children Of Fallen Soldiers, which is dedicated to helping mentor these children to help them achieve their dreams. Here is a clip that helps explain TAPS, the first programs mentioned.



These videos, whether viewed independently or alone, hopefully convey a different message about Memorial Day. Many people from around the world have the mistaken notion that Memorial Day is an extension of national pride in the United States. In reality, when it is observed, it a somber reminder of a people who value peace, appreciate the cost of conflict, and understand the sacrifice of too many.

A Brief Perspective On Memorial Day.

Even its establishment, originally as Decoration Day, was not a celebration of war but rather the efforts of formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War who died for their freedom. Later, Southern states held their own Memorial Days, helping rebind the common cause of this country and by 1866, both Union and Confederate casualties were commemorated.

Later still, the holiday began to include the casualties of other conflicts, servicemen and women who may not have died in the country's internal conflict over freedom but rather in conflicts related to freedom all over the world.

While many American observe this day differently, the least people are asked to do is to pause for minutes at 3 p.m. (their time zone) for the National Moment of Remembrance. The goal of this moment is understood. It is a call to remember that the price of freedom is never free. The cost of it is paid for with the lives of brave men and women in an instant, and then by their families forever. Good night and good luck.
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