The year was 1865, it was spring and the American Civil War had officially ended and the soldiers began returning home. Some did not have homes to return to, others did not have families to return to, and many families would not see their sons, fathers, brothers, sisters, or mothers ever return. These were not the best of days.
However, out of pride, out of honor, and out of respect a new tradition was independently springing up all across the nation. The states, communities, friends and families of the fallen were decorating the graves of their soldiers and honoring their sacrifice. These decoration ceremonies were common and by 1868 “Decoration Day” had quietly acquired a more familiar name–Memorial Day.
The year is now 1915. World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars is tearing apart much of the world and millions are dying to protect their families, countries, and ways of life. A Canadian physician and Lieutenant-Colonel notices how quickly poppy flowers grow around the graves of fallen soldiers and takes pen in hand to compose “In Flanders Fields.”
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
In Flanders Fields –Lieutenant-Colonel John Mcrae
After the War that Ended all Wars we jump to December 7, 1941. A seemingly ordinary day, until World War II hits American soil as Pearl Harbor is attacked. In an instant American men and women head to Europe to safeguard America and provide salvation to the innocent of Europe. Tens of millions worldwide perish by 1945 when the War is finally ended.
Half a decade later, 1950. The Cold War indirectly turns hot as the Korean conflict begins. It is called a “conflict” a “police action” but an informal name cannot change the situation, it’s a War.
1965, America’s men and women go to Vietnam. The Vietnam War continues for a decade, and America withdraws from the war. Forget the politics—today, today remember the sacrifice that was given to support a just way of life, free of oppression, a nation of and for the people.
1990, The Gulf War. American Troops head to the Middle East and prevent Iraq from taking over Kuwait .
2001, every American can tell you where they were on September 11, 2001. Later in 2001 American boots are on the ground in Afghanistan searching for the people responsible for the 9/11 attacks. They put their lives on the line to prevent future acts of terror on U.S. soil.
2003, the war in Afghanistan spreads into Iraq as the war on terror continues. The Iraqi Dictator is overthrown and Iraq slowly handed back over to its people.
Kosovo. Grenada. Lebanon. Panama. Somali. Haiti. Libya…and countless more.
Today. The War on ISIS/ISIL
Maybe you didn’t know the history of Memorial Day or “Decoration Day” or never understood the significance of the poppies. Maybe you do not remember any other war other than the current War on ISIL/ISIS. Maybe you never met a soldier. Maybe you never knew you met a soldier. Maybe you never knew someone who gave their life for America. HOWEVER, every freedom you and I enjoy are because someone, maybe someone you never knew, gave up their freedoms and their life so that your life and freedoms would be safe.
SO TAKE A MOMENT TO REMEMBER AND BE THANKFUL. WHILE YOU ARE REMEMBERING, REMEMBER NOT TO FORGET THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO MADE IT HOME. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL VA AND VETERANS.
Have a Great Memorial Day and Travel Safe!
THANK-YOU, WE WILL NOT FORGET.
Tell us your story about the servicemen and women you honor today! firstname.lastname@example.org
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