I’m old enough to remember some referring to this day as Decoration Day. I recall the annual parade in my small hometown, the firemen barbecuing chicken, and the boats going to the river for the first big weekend of summer. I can also remember the trips to the cemetery as the American Legion members held a public service to honor soldiers.
Interestingly, we first observed Decoration Day in 1868, but it didn’t become a national holiday until 1971 as it was driven by the states.
Today, in our time of political hostility, I wonder how many people take the time to reflect upon the past – the lives that were lost due to country pride – not hostility within. I hope that today everyone takes a minute or two out of their fun day to reflect about the sacrifices given by so many.
Meanwhile, here’s a tribute to our armed forces- past and present. Have a safe weekend and positive week ahead.
Parades, picnics, barbeques, neighborhood parties are many of the activities scheduled for the last day of this 3-day weekend. On the other hand, after watching interviews with Admiral Mullen and several Iraq-War veterans, I was once again reminded that today is not about any of the things, but more about remembering those who died while serving.
I must admit, I didn’t serve any military time; nor did many of my friends. Today I know more who served in Vietnam than I knew at the time of that war. Although I had a draft lottery number of 046 and had successfully passed my induction physical, President Nixon had started troop withdrawal.
But in those recent interviews, these soldiers asked us to remember the fallen warriors – the ones who returned home in a flag-draped casket. So with this post, I recall Tommy from my hometown.
Tommy was the first person I knew to die in combat. Although I was 7 years younger, I knew him as one of the teenagers who helped while I was in little league, plus through the American Legion where both of our fathers were members. I recall how the news of his death shocked our small town, and for some reason he occasionally pops into my mind over the past 40 years.
In the early 1990s I recall my first and only trip to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. A different felling came upon me as I walked down the ramp into this simple-looking memorial. I never found Tommy’s name, but I thought about him again on that day.
So today, salute to you Tommy, as well as all others who have died while serving this country over the past 200+ years.
Here’s a collection of editorials cartoonists from around the country.
Image from ArlingtonCemetary.org