“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
– James A. Garfield: May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
This Memorial Day, Thank a Veteran
While waiting to be seated in a restaurant not long ago, a man walked in using a cane, proudly decorated with various war medals. The young lady who appeared to be his daughter helped him to sit down on the bench not far from me, then seated herself beside him. As my name was called to be seated, I was filled with thankfulness for this man and his service; I could only imagine what this war veteran had sacrificed in his lifetime. This man deserved acknowledgement at the very least.
With my party waiting, I walked over to the seated pair and asked the veteran if I may have the honor of shaking his hand. Seeming a bit surprised, he slowly reached out his hand as I clasped his hand firmly in mine and shook his hand heartily as I told him with utmost gratitude, “Thank you, sir, for your service and for your sacrifice”. He humbly smiled and simply responded, “My pleasure”. Upon sharing his smile, I glanced over to his daughter to see tears welling up in her eyes as she whispered to me with a quivering chin, “Thank You”.
Certainly not expecting such passionate responses, I turned to catch up with my party; I was filled with gratitude and many emotions. I can still hear the elderly veteran’s words in my head: “My pleasure”. None of us will ever know the sacrifices this man made for our freedom, but I have a feeling his daughter had a very good idea. Still yet, with so many other responses he could have given, he chose without hesitation, “My pleasure”. Humbly and bravely, he sacrificed much for his country, his family, and all of us.
This Memorial Day, as you enjoy cookouts, parades, and relaxing time with family and friends, please remember those who sacrificed much for our freedom.
Display the Flag
On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon. In the morning, the flag should be raised momentarily to the top and then lowered to half-staff. Americans can also honor prisoners of war and those missing in action by flying the POW/MIA flag.
Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance
In accordance with a congressional resolution passed in 2000, please pause wherever you are at 3:00 p.m. local time for a moment of silence to remember and honor the fallen.
Visit Local Veterans Homes and Hospitals
Many living American veterans require long-term medical care or housing assistance, and they can often feel forgotten. The Memorial Day holiday is a great time to let them know that we appreciate their sacrifice and that of their families and their friends lost in battle.
Wear Memorial Day Poppies
The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day was inspired by the 1915 poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrea. War worker Moina Michael made a personal pledge to always wear red silk poppies as an emblem for “keeping the faith with all who died,” and began a tradition that was adopted in the United States, England, France, Australia and more than 50 other countries.
Excerpts taken from pbs.org