Memorial Day is more than a holiday
May 26, 2003
Stars and stripes will sprinkle Happy Homestead Cemetery today in a symbolic tribute to those from South Lake Tahoe who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
For most, today is a holiday. For those who lost a loved one in combat, it is anything but a holiday. It is a day to pay tribute — as it should be for all of us.
It is unfortunate that there even needs to be a Memorial Day. Even sadder that compared to a year ago there are more dead to be mourned. Ours is not a world that seems destined to live in peace. Instead we take up arms to solve our problems.
Our leaders have found that sometimes conflict is the only way to resolution. No matter one’s opinions about the military or a particular war, there is no denying that men and women dressed in the uniform of the various branches of the United States armed forces are doing a job that most could not and would choose not to do.
Some die in training, some in accidents, some by the odd phrase of friendly fire and others in brutal combat. All were brave. All should be honored. No one should be forgotten.
There are more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a sight beyond words. There is row after row after row of markers of our countrymen who have died so we can enjoy the freedoms we so often seem to take for granted.
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Soldiers will have placed a small flag at each one. A small, but significant symbol to note that the flag does still yet wave.
Our national anthem is full of conflict — bombs bursting in air, the rockets red glare. At sporting events today there will a roar from the crowd nearly as load as the jets soaring over head.
It is a strange dichotomy. We love the power of our military in times of peace but seem to badmouth it when it is not used how we want it. It is hard to justify having it both ways.
For one day, put politics aside. Put aside feelings about the war with Iraq, the debacle in Vietnam, the world wars and those that preceded them and the skirmishes in between to acknowledge that you would not even being reading this editorial in most countries.
Freedom of the press, the First Amendment — those are but two of the rights that hundreds of thousands have died for. Take a moment today to remember that millions of Americans died so you could have a holiday.