What Memorial Day is About

By Bill Webb (retired USMC)
As a veteran there is a saying I have always cherished, "For those who have fought for freedom, freedom has a special flavor the protected with never know." Unfortunately, so many people today take freedom for granted. Many of these same people believe Memorial Day is just another holiday to have a picnic or go to the beach, but to a Veteran this day is special. On Memorial Day the graves of American Veterans around the world will be decorated with small American flags, the same Flag that liberal judges say you can burn if you wish. We call these Veterans heroes but when they died they were no different from you or I. What made them unique was that they answered America's call and gave their lives in it's defense. However, the hearts of these Veterans would be broken if they knew the condition of America today, for many of our leaders have degraded their honor by disrespecting our laws, the Constitution and not standing up moral principals of our Founders. 

For the military vets who fought and returned we can only swear on our sacred honor that we will never forget their courageous sacrifices, and pray that their sacrifices are the last. For the ones who fought but have not returned, the missing whose fate is known only to God, we must pledge to them and to their families to do everything in our power to speak on their behalf, find them and return them to American soil. It is our patriotic duty never to allow them to be forgotten. This is not simply the American thing to do, it is the right thing to do because they are the ones when in the prime of their lives, left their homes and families, took up arms and traveled to foreign lands arms on our behalf. 

Veterans who have served in combat would agree with me that war is not a glorious or honorable endeavor. If you saw the movie "Saving Private Ryan" I am sure you too would agree. No amount of training could have prepared those men for what they endured, yet they obeyed and fought on. When they returned home they were changed, some showed the change with physical scars while and others were scared inside. 

What was it that gave them the courage to fly aircraft into flak-laden skies, sail ships into harms way, charge out of a landing craft on Omaha beach, cross the fields of fire at Flanders, trod the frozen waste of Korea or trudge through the rice paddies of Vietnam? They didn't do this for money or material gain, or to have two cars in the garage and a bigger house. They didn't do it to save Social Security, education or to put more jobs in the community. The did it because they believed in a Nation that protected freedom, human rights and dignity and they were willing to DIE to defend those principals. They did it for an America that believed in honor, integrity, morality and justice, qualities as a nation we lack today.

I served in the Marine Corps for 21 years. I am proud of that fact because I believe the Marines have made responsible citizens out of millions of young men who lacked direction. The Marine Corps reinforced the values I learned as a child by teaching me that integrity, honor, courage, judgment, and morality are all important leadership qualities. I believe the heart of America hungers for these same things. 

A grateful nation used to turn out and cheer those that had served and the right to burn the Flag would have never been debated. What has happened to America and why do we not care anymore? There was hardly a protest when 45 Army Rangers died in Somalia because of the current administration's political blunders. Hardly a cry is heard for our fighting men that are in harms way even as I write this. These sometimes forgotten Soldiers did not swear an oath to the United Nations, NATO, or any other foreign power; they swore an oath defend the Constitution of the United States, and an oath, although meaning nothing to many politicians, is sacred to a Soldier.

It saddens me that so many people today have forgotten or have never learned of the moral principals this Nation was founded on. Most of these same people have no idea what Memorial Day is really about. While they go to their bar B Q's and beaches tomorrow there are some who keep up a tradition of pride in service to the United States of America and remember all those who have fallen, and rejoice with the ones who still live and remember. Let none of us ever forget what 
Memorial Day really is about and the true reasons 
these men served and died.