What Memorial Day Means To Me
(May 14, 2007)
|Memorial Day 2007 is fast approaching, and it is time for me to reflect on what exactly this day means to me. When I think of Memorial Day, I think of the countless men and women who have paid the ultimate price in order to ensure our freedom, and to grant it to others. I think about the men and women who have yet to return home: our prisoner of wars, our missing in action, and those killed in action whose bodies have yet to be returned. I think about Dr. Eleanor Vietti, Rev. Archie Mitchell, and Dan Gerber. |
Vietti, a surgeon; Mitchell, the administrative officer; and Gerber, a missionary, were all stationed at the Ban Me Thuot Leprosarium in South Vietnam, when they were taken prisoner of war on 30 May 1962. Mitchell's wife and four children stayed at the Leprosarium until October 1967; Mrs. Mitchell later returned to Viet Nam to help operate a dispensary. Gerber was engaged to Ruth Wilting, one of the nurses at the Leprosarium; she was later killed in the Tet Offensive. Vietti, Mitchell, and Gerber have yet to be found.
There are thousands upon thousands of other Americans still unaccounted for from World War I to our current war on terror. Many of them will never be found, yet their families still hold out hope. It grieves me to think that our POW-MIAs are so soon forgotten, that their sacrifice was in vain. Sadly, the sacrifices of those who did make it home, alive, are soon forgotten too.
Memorial Day is a day to honor those who fought, and died. At one of Texarkana's four annual Memorial Day services, the names of those local veterans who have died since the previous year are read, and then the list of their names burned. It will be a bittersweet reading this year, as I grieve that the name of one of my veteran friends, Booker T. Johnson (ex-POW of the Korean War), will be on that list while I rejoice that the name of another veteran friend, my grandfather (WWII), will not.
Memorial Day to me is much more than hitting the sales at the stores, or grilling food out by the lake. Memorial Day to me is taking the time to honor our men and women who have gone on before. This is a task I do year round, yet there is something about gathering with others to pay tribute to our fallen, that means so much. Many of my veteran friends I see but twice a year – Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Each year, the number dwindles, and I want to make sure I take every chance I can to talk with them, to honor them, so that when they are gone, they will not be forgotten.
I do not understand why some people cannot take one day out of the year to honor our fallen heroes. There are those who greatly enjoy our freedoms, yet seem to forget those who gave the freedoms to us. Cities large and small, all over this great nation of ours, will hold Memorial Day services. Texarkana holds one on the Sunday before Memorial Day, and three on Memorial Day itself. The turnouts are not always so great, but I am thankful for those who do come.
I ask every one of you to take the time this Memorial Day, to pay tribute to our fallen. If you cannot, or do not want to, make a Memorial Day service, find some other way to pay tribute. Visit a cemetery and give a silent thanks to those veterans who lay there – their graves should not be too hard to spot, as volunteers make sure each one has an American flag on them. Visit a veterans memorial and place a flag there. Offer a prayer of thanks for the sacrifices our veterans have made. Just do something!
|Stacey N. Binning|
Comment on this article