Like any birth, our nation was born in blood. The founding fathers had to fight the armed might of the British Empire to earn their freedom and establish this nation. From that day to now, brave people have stood between danger and America, often purchasing with their bodies and their very lives the continued freedom of this nation.
On this day we remember those men and women who have fallen in the defense of the United States of America. They sacrificed all they had that we might be free. Let us live in such a way that their sacrifice was not in vain.
Today you may see some old man wearing buttons, badges and a funny hat, and he may offer you a small plastic poppy flower. That man is a veteran. Shake his hand and thank him for his service. You are a free American because of his service and the service of thousands of brave men and women like him. Then buy that poppy from him and wear it with pride. On this Memorial Day, we remember those who are not around to barbecue and take the day off work; instead they lie in poppy-strewn fields.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
November 11th is Veterans Day, saluting all the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Mere words are not sufficient on this day. Shake the hands of everyone you meet who has served and thank them for their service. And if you see someone in uniform, pick up their tab, whether it’s a cab, a drink, a meal, or groceries. It’s a small act of kindness for those who fill the role of defender as outlined in our anthem.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ’In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
“The Star Spangled Banner”, fourth stanza
Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who had been killed in the Korean War. (from Wikipedia)
Today is Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember those who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Since the birth of our nation in armed conflict and again in each generation, brave men and women have stood “Between their loved home and the war’s desolation” to keep our nation and its people free. So as you enjoy your vacation from school or work, your barbeques, or your fun times today, remember that you are free to do so because millions of American men and women served in the armed forces to keep our nation free, and too many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving.
Don’t mistake this day for Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, not just those who died. But nothing says you can’t (or shouldn’t) thank any member of the military you encounter today.
Here are several good Memorial Day links well worth visiting:
Below is a wonderful National Geographic special about Arlington National Cemetery hosted on Hulu titled “Arlington: Field of Honor”.
And to finish off this post and to list out their sacrifice, here is a table taken from the Wikipedia article on American casualties of war. I have edited the list to enumerate only the dead, not the wounded.