Memorial Day to honor those who sacrificed

Published 8:26 pm Saturday, May 23, 2015

On the last Monday in May, which will be May 25 this year, Memorial Day will be observed throughout the United States. Originally called Decoration Day from the practice of placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers, the name was changed to Memorial Day and is observed on the last Monday in May, though the traditional date is May 30.

This is a day of remembrance for those that have died in our nation’s service.

On Monday, May 25, Post 3016 of The Veterans of Foreign Wars will host a local ceremony at Memorial Stadium at 11 a.m. Commander Dennis Doherty, who is also the Department of Alabama Jr. Vice Commander, and present Commander of VFW Post 3016 will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Several guest speakers as well as keynote speaker Probate Judge Kim Ballard will speak of the great sacrifices that the American Soldiers and Sailors have endured so that you and I can enjoy the freedoms that we so dearly love.

The freedom and right to gather to thank them should be high on everyone’s list. This is for all Americans, and all veterans, no matter their race, sex, color, or creed and recognizes their contributions to America’s freedoms.

One hundred and forty nine years have passed since that drugstore owner in Waterloo, New York suggested that all businesses close for one day to honor in a solemn and patriotic way, the fallen soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War.

This was an idea that was well received by all and for that one day, all businesses closed, widows placed wildflowers on the graves, townspeople made wreaths and crosses to place on all the headstones, flags waved proudly at half-staff, and an American tradition was born.

In 1915 the idea of wearing a red poppy on Memorial Day in honor of those who died while serving this great nation in war was conceived. In 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States became the first Veterans organization to nationally recognize “Buddy Poppies.”

Made by the disabled veterans in the veteran’s hospitals, all monies raised from donations for the poppies goes to help servicemen and their families in need.

Have you ever been the Arlington National Cemetery? Section 60 of that cemetery has taken special meaning as the final resting place for the American Hero’s that have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2001, many casualties of these wars are interned there and other National Cemeteries through-out or great country.

Though the ceremony is solemn, the media has taken little notice and the public even less. Of the 4,474 uniformed Americans who died in Iraq and the 2,352 who have lost their life in Afghanistan, there are over 900 in Section 60. They were someone’s father, brother, uncle, cousin, and now even their mother, sister or aunt! They gave their all.

Most Americans have forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day. If you cannot attend, at least around 11 a.m. take a short pause in whatever you may be doing and lower your head for a brief moment of silent prayer and thanks to these passed heroes. Or, perhaps listen to TAPS and silently thank them for their sacrifices so that you may enjoy all your freedoms that they have died to give you.

As you know, we have lost most of our World War II and Korean Veterans and now the Vietnam veterans are getting close to being remembered at ceremonies such as this at an alarming rate. Come out and thank the few remaining survivors that will be among our ranks and show your support for the gallant men and women that are yet today in harm’s way.

The greatest glory of a free born people is to transmit the reason for that freedom to their children, and I tell you now, freedom is not free!

Rod Stone

VFW Post 3016