The following article was written by Lt Colonel Tony Traficante, US Army, (Retired).
“Day is done, gone the sun, From the hills, from the lake, From the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”
Memorial Day is a special day for Veterans and their families. It should be for all Americans. It is a day of profound meaning as we remember the selfless service of military men and women who sacrificed their lives, defending our freedoms.
What is it that inspires regular citizens to rise to the challenge of battle, to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for country? Indeed, a question to ponder.
More than a million American service members gave their lives in war and conflict since the colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. All were ordinary people that were loved and cherished by family and friends. Each a loss to the community and the nation.
Memorial Day was once a day when stores closed, and communities gathered together for a day of parades and celebrations with a patriotic theme. It was a day of ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, honoring those who gave their lives. Flags fluttered at half-staff and dignitaries presented wreaths as the chilling sound of Taps floated across burial grounds of combat heroes.
The scenes are different today. For many, Memorial Day is just another three-day vacation break or a shopping spree.
More gather at malls and parks, instead of the hallowed grounds of brave men and women. Nothing is wrong with that picture, except the patriotic core — the spirit of remembrance — signified by this esteemed day, is gone.
Is it because we are living in a time of economic prosperity and relative peace we tend to forget the sacrifices of our military and veterans? It should not be, for they have made such peace and order a reality.
These men and women, buried beneath our feet, answered the call to serve their country and paid with their lives. For this, the least we can do is pause to remember.
This Memorial Day let us not forget what it is all about.