Written by: Kent Bressler, AAKP BOD and Ambassador, served in the United States Army
What will you be doing on May 28, 2018, Memorial Day? Many will be beginning summer vacations, schools are out, and families are together and free to do as they wish. Some will take the time to bow their heads, pray and quietly remember those men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms that we so proudly enjoy. Others will attend special services in remembrance of those active duty personnel, men and women who died serving this country.
This reverent Memorial or Decoration day has origins in long ago battles for liberty such as the Civil War, that killed more people than any other conflict in our history. We also must remember that even in the war for independence many died fighting the British. It is not so much the battles or the dates but the pure dedication of the soles that perished. Thousands through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, paid the ultimate price for the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans.
As a young boy I remember President Kennedy’s quote “My fellow Americans ask not what our country can do for you, ask what you can do for your county.” The passion for our country and its values expressed by Kennedy has been borne out by all of those who have died fighting for it. Patton though had his own thoughts when he said “it is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” I think that is the main point we should thank God for those who have died for our freedoms. Do that however you can even if it is just a silent moment giving them their due respect.
The battleship Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, continues to ooze a faint but steady stream of oil to the top. That in its self is a true testimonial to those who died on the ship. At Arlington Cemetery the long, seemingly never ending rows of white head stones can weaken even the strongest knees. On passing by the monuments in Washington D.C., the Vietnam, Korean and World War II memorials, you get the feeling of strength in knowing we are protected. When the folded flag is honorably presented to the survivors it exemplifies the passing of another hero. When the star spangled banner is played we have an obligation to think of all of those who died for it is not about us but rather them.
Let’s all enjoy this great holiday and find time to personally say thanks in our own way. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, “those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” I pray that someday we will have peace and freedom without the sacrifices of war.