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Archive for the ‘Arlington National Cemetery’ Category

 

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Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery – Pt. Loma, CA – Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day is the American Holiday observed on the last Monday of May, It honors the men and women who died while serving in war or while otherwise serving in the United States Military.

Originally called Decoration Day, it came into being in the years after the Civil War when Americans in cities and towns began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers, and also reciting prayers and poems to the fallen.

It became Memorial Day as we started to honor and decorate the graves of all of our fallen from all wars and conflicts.

Most cemeteries decorate the graves of our fallen with flags, and hold ceremonies reminding us all of the meaning of the words: sacrifice, honor, duty, Country.

No matter your plans for this Memorial Day weekend – please take a moment and remember why it is you have an extra day off work. Remember why it is you have the freedom to say what you please, write what you please, worship whomever you please, and cast your vote as you please.

I’ll be remembering and thanking my great grandfather, grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, friends who were in uniform during the Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, and Vietnam.

I’ll also be thinking of family and friends still living who need to be honored and respected for their service during Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan… War changes everyone – living or dead – and they all need to be honored.

If you can’t get to a cemetery to pay tribute you can honor the fallen in your own little part of the world. The US Government’s website tells us we can also “Pay tribute to the U.S. men and women who died during military service by observing a minute of silence at 3:00 PM, local time.”

To all members of our United States Armed Services, past and present – you have my heartfelt gratitude and thanks for your service.

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Did you know that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who have died in service to the United States of America?  Did you also know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? I hate to burst your 3-day weekend bubble, but, it’s not about heading to the beach, drinking beer, and throwing some meat on the grill.

I come from a military family.  My great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg, my grandfather in WWI, my father in WWII, my brother in Vietnam, my ex-husband in The Persian Gulf, my nephew in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My mother drilled it into my head and my heart that to serve one’s Country is the highest of honors, not just for the person, but for the family.

When I was little there was a parade down the main street of our little town.  My little tricycle had the red, white and blue streamers, and the veterans marched proudly and waved and smiled at the folks who lined the street. I may complain from time to time about the conservative politics of this little town, but when it came to their veterans; It was Americana at its best.

As I’ve gotten older, I also understand that Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring the dead; it’s also about honoring the living.  Their service changes their lives forever. Whether they see combat, is not the issue, it’s the service to their country that changes who they are, and it changes forever the family unit.

It’s the service of the Mother or Father left behind to comfort the children, pay the bills, and deal with the everyday life that can be simply overwhelming.  Not enough money, not enough love to go around, not enough community support, not enough government support…

In 2000 President Clinton signed the “National Day of Remembrance” resolution which asks all Americans at 3p.m. local time, “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” Take a moment and honor them all.

Susan and I will be heading to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to honor our fallen veterans, and then to the USS Midway to throw a flower in the water over the ashes of my father.

Memorial Day isn’t about how you feel about war. Memorial Day is to honor those who do the fighting and the dying, and those who “keep the home fires burning.” To those veterans and their families who may be reading this…  Thank You ♥

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My brother has given me hundreds of slides which I find myself going through one at a time.  Each one holds a memory, some of places long ago visited, some of people long gone from my life, but each slide tells a story.


I came across a few from the grave of President Kennedy taken a week after he was buried.  The white picket fence, the flowers, the hats from all the armed services, the evergreen boughs that covered the grave and the eternal flame that was burning so brightly. I closed my eyes and remembered those days that have been etched in the memory of all who lived through it.

I remember exactly where I was when the word came that President Kennedy had been shot.  I was in my 6th grade English class – Mr. Faust’s English class to be exact.  I remember that he cried when he heard the news and for some reason I didn’t find that disconcerting, it sort of made him human to me.

The school sent us home early, and I remember sitting in front of a small black and white television screen for the next 3 days with my mother, just watching the black and white images on the screen and seeing my Mother cry. One of the few times in my life I would witness this show of emotion. 

We watched everything that the television stations of 1963 had to offer. We didn’t miss a moment.  When they went off the air, we went to bed, when they came on in the morning, Mother woke me so I could see this part of American history.

Mother got it in her head that she wanted my Father to drive us to Washington DC so we could walk past the casket as it lay in the rotunda of the Capital.  My Father didn’t seem to share her enthusiasm for such an outing, and kept finding reason not to go.  Finally after an entire day of Mother insisting we go and my Father insisting we not – he caved and we started to dress for the drive and the standing in line. 

As Mother was packing sandwiches they announced on the television that they were not allowing anyone else to get in line to view the casket.  As you can imagine – Mother was not pleased and my father acted like he was also not pleased but we all knew he was happy he didn’t have to make that drive in the middle of the night! 

The deal he made with Mother was that he would drive us down to Arlington National Cemetery the following weekend so we could walk past the grave.  He kept his word and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was only 11, but some things, some places, some emotions never leave you.  if I’m still enough and quiet enough, I can still hear the soft sounds of women weeping, and I can see grown men wiping their eyes, and servicemen standing at attention saluting the grave of their fallen comrade and President. I can hear the sounds of people softly walking on that wooden walkway that had been built so the public could walk by and I can hear the snow crunch as they walk over it. More than anything, I remember how quiet it was. Hundreds of people, dressed in their Sunday best, paying their respects to their fallen President.

It was history, and I’m so thrilled to have been a part of it. As sad as it was, I’m so honored to have seen that white picket fence and flowers and evergreen boughs and armed services hats, and that ever burning flame. My mother – God love her – insisted…


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