I remember it like it was yesterday. The honor guard took the flag from my father’s casket, folded it, and saluted it. Then one of them knelt down in front of me, speaking softly as he placed it in my hands. Although there were more words spoken, what stood out to me was when he said he was presenting the flag, “On behalf of a grateful nation.”
Daddy had died just a few days earlier … on Memorial Day. Every Memorial Day since, my thoughts harken back to him and to every veteran that has ever stood in harms way for me to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we all share as Americans.
My Dad was a 21 year veteran of the US Army and a World War II vet who fought in the South Pacific. He never talked about the war but I vividly remember him having bad dreams, where he would talk in his sleep, sometimes raising his voice, and often waking up in a cold sweat.
He had experienced some terrible things during that war, but he was one of the fortunate ones who got to come home. More than 407,300 American soldiers did not. All total, in the history of the United States, over 1,300,000 military personnel have died in service to their country during war time and military conflicts.
Today is the day we set aside to honor their memory. Daddy chose to honor it even in death. His final request was to be buried with his comrades. We honored that request and he was laid to rest in the National Cemetery in Florence, South Carolina.
We who are alive should take time from whatever we’re doing on this day to stop and remember them for their supreme sacrifice. In fact, many Americans are not aware that President Clinton initiated a ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ in 2000 for this purpose.
The presidential resolution asked that all Americans, “Pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday … honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values.” President Bush continued the practice and asked that all Americans as well as the news media observe the moment at 3 p.m. in all time zones.
So as a part of “a grateful nation” … why not stop your activities today for a brief moment (if possible at 3 p.m.) and have a silent ‘moment of remembrance’ for all those who have given their lives so that we may enjoy this day with our friends and family. God bless their memory and …
God Bless the USA!
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