What do you do when there is nothing else you can do? Monday is the day we set aside as a nation to remember the lost souls who have defended our country. While the Iraq and Afghanistan wars occupy our short-term memory, Memorial Day is for all of our fallen warriors. It began as Decoration Day in 1868 to remember the fathers and brothers who fought each other during the Civil War, a war that cost 599 American lives every day between 1861 and 1865. We have been calling it Memorial Day since 1888.
We have ordered our warfighters to almost every spot on the globe, from Buna to Fallujah to Hongch’on to la Drang, places located in strange countries from Papua New Guinea, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. While some Americans have found fault in the conflicts in which we’ve become involved, there is no fault in the personnel we’ve sent to wage those wars, and tomorrow we will honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For the most part, many of us only feel the grief tied to Memorial Day on the periphery. Due to an all-volunteer military, we can go about our daily lives basking in freedom with hardly a thought of those standing between us and those who would do us harm.
We also tend to forget that the warriors who defend us have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters. They are real people with real families. And for the families of the fallen, not a day goes by without memories flooding in, thoughts of what might have been.
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Unfortunately, Memorial Day is looked on by some Americans as just another day off. A time to cook out or head to the lake. But there should be something else on our itinerary. We should all take some time to honor our fallen warriors. There are ceremonies all over Middle Georgia, and we should attend at least one event. That cannot make a dent in the amount we owe them, but our gratitude is the only thing we have to offer in their memory.