Memorial Day

By Ron

Our nation gives medals for the wounded, the brave, and the dead who answered the call to duty and fought in wars that are now a mention in history books. On memorial day we remember the sacrifice for our country of individuals - and their families. There were goodbyes - but never hellos. For them the battle is over. The cost of freedom is high.


Walk among stones of a national cemetery which are memorials to those we never knew. A name, rank and a couple of dates is all we learn about them other than they gave their lives that we might still be free. Row after what seems like endless rows of stones with small flags in front. Some stones are bright white while many others have faded with time. But each stone represents a family of loved ones for whom Memorial Day is not just an extra day off for a barbecue and a bug race. It is a day to pay respect to those who have answered our country's call and have paid the price so that we can enjoy that barbecue.


Visiting cemeteries today are the aged who still wipe tears from their eyes as they remember the baby, childhood, and teen years of of the one now buried there. Young women placing wreaths and flowers on new graves. And, there are the sobs of children which deeply touch our own hearts. Many left for service to our country when their children were too young to remember them except from a picture in a book. Left to accept the reality that daddy will never come home. Generation after generation feel the heart wrenching pain and continued loss. Each come to visit their own special spot to remember, shed a tear, and think of what might have been ... if only.. as they stare at a stone with a special name on it.


This week the news will tell of others who die somewhere overseas and for whom more rows of stones will be added this year. There will be many more flag draped coffins, perfectly folded flags presented to hurting families, and taps will sound again and again.

We remember those who have opened their front door to find two members of the military in dress uniforms with the worst news a family can receive. And, we remember those who have received the dreaded letter that their loved one is missing in action or a prisoner of war. Years have passed without a further word. Their name and number are on a military list. Yet families continue to wonder and hope.


The dead wore many different uniforms from the various branches of service. To be sure the weapons and tactics of war have changed throughout the years. Yet, the oath remains the same: "I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."    Sadly, many of our veterans did not come home to a hero's welcome but returned to angry crowds calling them derogatory names, spitting on them, and throwing rocks, eggs, and rotten fruit. Many of those still feel the rejection of the nation they served and continue to live under bridges, in shelters or VA hospitals - forgotten by many.


Many veterans return wounded for life. Those who are still alive may search today for friends' names on a wall or remember their time spent on death marches or in POW camps. The rest of us need to stop and give thanks for the freedom we have in America. We must all remember - so we never forget.