As I awoke in bed crying this past night, I felt that I had to share this.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a time for all Americans to reflect on their history and their core values by honoring those who gave their lives, their life's blood, for the very ideal that we cherish as a nation - Freedom!
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It was not honored by all the states until after World War I, when the holiday changed, from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
However, the "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, our comrades at arms, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice. More than a million service members have died in wars and conflicts this nation fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. Each Soldier, airman, seaman, Marine, coast guardsman and merchant marine was a loved one, cherished by their family and friends, and each was a loss to their community and nation. Far too often, our nation as a whole takes for granted the freedom we Americans enjoy.
On this important day, we must stop to remember and to honor the great sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform throughout our history from 1775 to today.
As I conclude, let me share one final thought. Our brave men and women who have worn, or are currently wearing, the uniform of this nation do not fight for the glory of war but for the cause of freedom and the peace of the world. It is our responsibility and duty to ensure that the patriots of this generation and of every generation who defended freedom with their bodies and their lives receive the honor they deserve.
Remember the words of a great president, George Washington: "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
Wake up, my fellow Americans, before it's too late. Stand tall with me this Memorial Day and honor those who so greatly deserve it.
William L. (Bill) Wahl, U.S.A.F. Retired