May 26, 2008

Memorial Day - Thank you for your service

© Richard D. Gelina

Today is Memorial Day. I've never really known the best way to observe this holiday. As a child, growing up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, my family visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the Changing of the Guard on Memorial Day. Our church typically recognized our military servicemen and veterans on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day. And we have visited Arlington Cemetary on Memorial Day. But none of this seems like a proper tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation—ensuring that our nation is "the land of the free" because it is "the home of the brave."

Memorial Day was original enacted by Congress to honor the Northern soldiers who had lost their lives in the War Between the States (described by the invading nation as the American Civil War). This would not necessarily encourage me to observe this holiday since those soldiers lost their lives attacking my country. But after World War I the observance was expanded to honor all those who had lost their lives in military service to the United States. The hard question remains though: How should we best observe this holiday?

© Richard D. Gelina

Having been raised in the shadow of Quantico Marine Corps Base, Andrews Air Force Base, Ft. Belvoir Army Base, and quite close to Norfolk Naval Base, I have great respect for our military men and women. Their sacrifice is amazing ... and necessary.

So not knowing the best way to observe this holiday leaves me with what seems to be a very good thing for all Americans to do today. Simply say thank you to those who serve our nation—each of whom may one day be called to give their lives so that we may live in peace.

Thank you. You are greatly appreciated.

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