Why Do We Honor Memorial Day?

Why Do We Honor Memorial Day?

Los Angeles Police Department officers attend a memorial service at LAPD Headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif., on May 28, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Christian Milord

Christian Milord

5/28/2024

Updated: 5/28/2024

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Commentary
Veterans Day in November honors all of the deceased and living veterans that made the commitment to serve this nation. By contrast, Memorial Day is a special day to commemorate the fallen warriors in all of America’s wars abroad and at home since the American Revolution.
Plenty of folks think of Memorial Day as a day off from work to enjoy barbecues and the outdoors. However, for veterans and their families as well as those who cherish the freedoms we enjoy, this day is an opportunity to commemorate those who have paid the ultimate price to preserve liberty and our way of life.
On this somber day, we reflect on the families who have also sacrificed much in sending off their youngsters into a risk-filled future. We visualize the dreaded knock on the door when a military official informs a family that their loved one is gone. We imagine the unbelievable grief of the family members when they hear the news. It leaves a hole in their hearts that can never be fully healed.
However, there is some consolation in the fact that each fallen military veteran fought to defend freedom in places far and near. There is no greater sacrifice than to be willing to put one’s life on the line for fellow warriors, our nation, or even humanity. Freedom comes at a price, and it must be defended in order to endure. If it isn’t fought for, it can be chipped away by tyrants who subvert liberty and the rule of law.
On this day, we commemorate all those stricken veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals at the burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Agent Orange in Vietnam. Many of them are similar to the walking wounded. It is incumbent on the Veterans Administration to take care of these men who were exposed to unknown killers at the time. Unfortunately, many veterans have also taken their own lives due to these factors as well as the incredible stress of multiple deployments to combat zones. It will be a miracle if these shattering tragedies can be reduced in number.
We ought to remember members of the armed forces who are either missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW). Families of those veterans are often in the dark as to whether their loved ones are alive or dead, and it must be excruciating to realize they might never see them again. These realities ought to make anyone very grateful that they still live in a free country.
Following the Civil War, a tradition to place flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers developed, and it harked back to the days of the Greek Empire. Most cities hold a commemoration at cemeteries or historic sites, and they look for volunteers to help out in a variety of ways.
People pass out brochures, flags, poppies, or water to the attendees. Most memorials have patriotic songs, prayers, well known speakers, tributes to local fallen warriors, and wreath laying. There are usually plenty of families, first responders, and military veterans in attendance to pay respect to those who gave their last breath and drop of blood for the cause of God-given freedom.
Memorial Day helps us to pause in a fast paced world and realize that liberty is worth defending, because there are always dark forces that seek to undermine it. In recent years, all of the armed service branches except for the Marines have experienced recruiting shortfalls. The pandemic was a partial reason, but another factor is the sad fact that too many young people today don’t meet the mental and physical standards to enlist.
Moreover, in the current “progressive” atmosphere, an emphasis on historical knowledge has been neglected, along with critical thinking and discipline. To restore pride in the country and its founding principles, we need to motivate youngsters to study American traditions and understand that the past shapes our present and future. We are not entitled to automatic freedom, and it should not be taken for granted.
Perhaps this awakening will inspire some young people to understand the value of serving a noble cause much larger than themselves. A tour in the armed forces is a great maturing process, and most aren’t thrust into harms way. Service members train and stand ready to respond to any crisis, including humanitarian and natural disasters.
On this Memorial Day, we reflect on the importance of an informed citizenry and the willingness of ordinary folks to carry out heroic acts. Many have died so that we might fully live. I hope everyone had a healthy and thoughtful Memorial Day experience.
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Christian Milord

Christian Milord

Author

Christian Milord is an Orange County, California-based educator, mentor, USCG veteran, and writer. He earned his M.S. degree from California State University, Fullerton, where he mentors student groups and is involved with literacy programs. His interests include culture, economics, education, domestic and foreign policy, and military issues. He can be reached at cnvmilord@sbcglobal.net

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