Memorial Day has arrived again, and the living can look around and be thankful they are alive to enjoy it.
This day is special as it invokes the memories of our loved ones who passed away recently or long ago. We promise ourselves that we will pause for a few moments and have some reflection on our own past and think of our mortality. Life is meaningful in so many ways. Each of us has our own time clock and every minute does count.
The history of America is short compared to that on the European and Asian continents. Our forefathers fought for a cause that produced freedom for all of us. That cost was enormous and paid in full by our veterans who gave their lives on soil in the United States and land overseas. Many of our servicemen are continuing to keep that debt paid.
Memorial Day is a special holiday for us to take the time to reflect on our departed loved ones and the impact they made in our lives. Their love and commitment ultimately forged our personality, our character and our confidence to succeed in life. Some of those we honor on Memorial Day are our grandparents, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children and other loved ones.
A lot of our relatives served in the armed forces during wartime and during peaceful years. What matters most is that they served when our country called. Most of us pay homage to these loved ones who served, while many of these departed service members have no one to remember them as their relatives have passed on, too. When no one remembers them, they are officially dead.
Now consider those loved ones who lost their lives prematurely in combat in the prime years of their lives. These service members usually did not have a chance to raise a family, have a career or opportunity to teach us lessons to help us live our lives because they died so young.
When World War II ended, almost everyone had a relative who had served and the nation's pride in its servicemen was elated. Any patriotic event brought the residents out in droves. As time passed, the military draft ended and less people volunteered for military service. As a result, the whole culture of the nation changed when our older veterans started passing away. There were less veterans to carry the flags and less residents to show gratitude and thanks for their military service. The resident who had no living service members did not see the need to continue attending Memorial Day services.
In a way, the nation became like a flock of sheep. Everyone wanted to stay in the middle of the flock and when the wolves came, they were content when someone else was courageous enough to fight off the wolves. As long as someone volunteered to stay out there protecting those within the flock, they were safe. Since a few volunteers were enough to keep the wolves at bay, all those in that flock became complacent and weren't concerned if one of the volunteers lost his life fighting the wolves. After all, it was just one of the volunteers, and not one of them, so they experienced no pain or suffering.
Are Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Fathers the only ones who remember this sacrifice every day, especially on Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day? They do not need a special holiday to remember their losses because every day is a constant reminder.
Some of these fallen have no relatives to remember them, so read over their names and allow their memories to live through us: Sgt. R.J. Jimenez, killed in Iraq; BT2 Mark Hutchison, killed on board the USS Iwo Jima in the Middle East; Lance Cpl. David Cosner, killed in the Beirut bombing; Navy Corpsman Matthew G. Conte, killed in Iraq; and James Antolini, Randall Arbogast, Dennis Baxter, Gary Burgess, Tex Patrick, Roger Griffith, Thomas Hess, Bernard Jones, Fred Kerns, Cecil Kittle Jr., Steven Mollohan, Garry Shannon, David Shiflett, Robert Simmons, Samuel Summerfield, Russell Taylor, Robert Thompson, all killed in Vietnam.