"A veteran — whether active
duty, retired, National Guard or reserve — is someone who, at one point
in his or her life, wrote a check that said, "Payable to The United
States of America for an amount up to and including my life."
A little over a month ago, I received a call from Bob MacMichael, who has for a number of years been the organizer of the New London Memorial Day remembrance. He asked if I would be available to deliver the main talk at the 2012 service. I told him I would be honored to oblige.
The ceremony was held on Monday, May 28, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Not having spoken before at a commemoration of this sort, I wasn’t sure what I would say. But as I pondered that, it became my intention not only to honor our fallen heroes but all of those who had served in our wars during our collective living memory. All had served but some did not return.
After a few words describing the history of this special day, I spoke about the sacrifices of those who did not come back to their families, relatives and friends. I then went on to cover the wars of just the last hundred years and asked those who served during the wars from World War II to the present to stand, grouping the veterans by each war. It was my intention to honor those who served and who protected our blessings of liberty.
I then expressed my concerns, shared by many
others, that the move of Memorial Day from its original May 30
date to a Monday "holiday" since 1971 has had a deleterious
effect on the recognition of the solemnity and sanctity of this special
day. The Memorial Day Monday "holiday" has become the unofficial
beginning of summer, just as Labor Day is its unofficial end.
The father of a fallen Marine said it best, "I hope Americans will treat this Memorial Day as more than a time for pools to open, for barbecues, or for a holiday from work. It should be a solemn day to remember heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. And also a stark reminder that our country is still at war. If the rest of the nation joins us to renew the spirit of patriotism, service and sacrifice, perhaps America can reunite, on this day of reverence, around the men and women who risk their lives to defend it."
I concluded with the following poem by Kelly Strong:
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