Column: How will you remember Memorial Day?

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Commentary by Rick Baum, USMC veteran, Post Service Office and Chaplain Zionsville American Legion Post 79

Why does our nation pay tribute on Memorial Day each year?  What does Memorial Day mean to you?

This solemn and mournful day should deeply penetrate the souls of every American citizen. This day represents the very heart of America’s identity. More than 1.1 million U.S. military men and women have lost their lives and sacrificed it all for their belief in America and her countrymen.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 through a General Order by General John A. Logan following the Civil War.  Families and friends of Union and Confederate soldiers decorated the graves of those who died in the this costly war.

Memorial Day stands as a United States federal holiday remembering all military people who died serving in our nation’s Armed Forces.

Sept. 11, 2001, is remembered as one of the most shocking, life-changing and deadly attacks on our nation’s soil. Americans were riveted to the news, anxiously anticipating what other horrors might follow.

Soon after, our nation was engaged in the Global War on Terrorism, and a deepened appreciation and cherished value for this nation was realized. Our nation was forever changed as millions of U.S flags were newly displayed throughout the land. Veterans went to recruiters asking to re-enlist. We witnessed our sons and daughters enlisting in the military to carry out a determined sense of duty to protect their families and the nation that they loved so dearly. Many of them died in service for that noble cause.

Memorial Day stands patriotically distinguished from Independence Day, Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day. Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Thus, our nation was born as a new and sovereign nation governed by the rule of law and not kings. Veterans Day honors those living veterans who served in our nation’s military. Armed Forces Day recognizes those currently serving in the U.S. Military.

Each of these days are uniquely distinguished to remember those who sacrificed, served, or are serving.  These loyal patriots took an oath, whatever the cost, to maintain our safety, freedom and preserve a quality of life for all Americans. If we lose this liberty, there is nowhere to go.

We must remember those who gave up the comforts of home to stand in the gap wherever their orders directed them to serve. Many of their untold stories humbly went to their grave with them. Yet today, we enjoy our liberties because of the cost they were willing to pay to provide our peace and a future for our children and children’s children.

Let’s share the sentiments of sorrow as well as the gratitude that honors all of America’s fallen heroes.  May they rest in peace. Salute them. May you remember their sacrifice for you. 

Remember on this Memorial Day our nation’s wars, those who valiantly fought in them and those who gave their lives for your freedoms. Visit a war memorial, attend a ceremony at a cemetery, reminisce about a deceased veteran family member. Consider volunteering to place flags on local veterans’ graves with the Zionsville American Legion. For more on flag placements, call the Legion at 317-873-3105.

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