Remembering those who served

Memorial Day

The military branches; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, have approximately 1.3 million active-duty members. These men and women serve selflessly so that Americans can live the life we have. They do not pick and choose who they serve for, even those who don’t appreciate the armed services are fought for without hesitation. This is why we honor them when they have made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the line of duty.

Originally, Memorial Day was deemed Decoration Day and was founded by General John A. Logan who was a veteran soldier of the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. The day started after the Civil War and was dedicated to the 30th of May every year. The reason the holiday was “Decoration Day” was because people would decorate the graves of the lost soldiers, but this was primarily for union (northern) soldiers. In response, southern states created “Confederate Memorial Day” and Texas is a part of the few states that still celebrate this day now. New York was the first to honor this holiday and in 1971, Memorial Day then became a national holiday for all American soldiers.

Since 2006, over 18,000 military personnel have lost their lives while on active duty. This number does not include either of the World Wars or any foreign wars prior to 2006. There are also missing soldiers which could also be deceased and never found. It is important we acknowledge and show our remorse not only for those who sacrifice their life but for their families so they know the sacrifice was appreciated.

Memorial Day is celebrated every fourth Monday of May and is the unofficial start of summer.  Schools and most workplaces are closed so they can help honor or mourn fallen soldiers. This day is not just a day off of work or from school, Memorial Day should be celebrated by all Americans. There are plenty of ways to show your support for Memorial Day; donations, spreading awareness, and even fitness challenges. The most popular fitness challenge is the MURPH in honor of LT. Michael P. Murphy. The workout starts with one mile then 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and ends with another mile. Others put on firework displays, spend time with family and friends, or go on trips.

On Memorial Day, flags are to be flown at half-masted from dawn to noon, then fully masted the rest of the day in recognition of the lives lost. A Red Poppy is a flower some people wear on Memorial day as a tradition since 1915. The tradition stemmed from a World War I poem by John McCrae where he mentions poppies in a field. The American Legion even adopted the Poppy as their national symbol in 1921. 

We will never be able to pay back the men and women who fought for us to be free and even more so the ones who sacrificed themselves. There will never be enough days of the year to honor those fallen or those who served, but we can do our part and appreciate their service by not taking it for granted. Today, Memorial Day, when you are free to choose how you spend the holiday, think about how and why you get to choose.