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Lets not forget them!

Mon, May 15th, 2000
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By Emily DeVriesMonday, May 15, 2000

In a couple of weeks it will be Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a legal holiday that is observed on the last Monday in May. This day is held in honor of the nations armed services personnel that were killed in war time. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and is marked by parades, memorial speeches and ceremonies, and decorating the graves with flowers and flags. Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 on the order of General John Alexander Logan for the purposes of decorating the graves of the American Civil War dead. Today Memorial Day is observed in several different ways. However, the most important thing is that we remember all the people who died for our freedom.

Recently, the senior class from Fillmore Central High School took a trip to Washington DC. Here, we visited several memorials that remind us of our freedom and all the people who gave their lives for it. One of my favorite places we went on the trip was Arlington National Cemetery. Over 245,000 servicemen and their family members rest on the 612 acres of Virginia land across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial. At Arlington, about 20 burials are conducted every weekday. A majority of those buried there have been servicemen; many women who have contributed to our Armed Forces also lie within the hallowed grounds.

Within Arlington National Cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here a sentinel of the Third U.S. Infantry maintains the vigil around the clock. The sentinel paces 21 steps down the mat before the tomb, pauses 21 seconds, and returns. The changing of the guard takes place every half hour. The Fillmore Central Senior Class Officers were honored to lay a wreath on the tomb when our class was there. Entombed there are servicemen from World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown reads Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

Also at Arlington, I was able to see the grave of Audie Murphy. Audie Murphy was a well known actor, but also known as the most decorated WWII soldier. Audie starred in a movie about his life called To Hell and Back. This video tells us of the life of Audie Murphy before he entered the war, his life during the war, and how he became the most decorated WWII soldier. I was very proud to see Audie Murphys grave because he was not only a war hero, but he is also my hero.

Our Senior Class also visited the Vietnam Wall. I have heard so many things about this place, but was amazed by what it really looked like. On March 26, 1982, ground was formally broken in order to start the construction of the Vietnam Wall. The designer of the Wall was Maya Ying Lin of Athens, Ohio, who at the time was a 21-year-old student at Yale University. Her idea was that the names would become a memorial. She chose polished black granite for the walls. Its mirror-like surface reflects the surrounding trees, lawns, monuments, and people looking for names. The memorials wall points to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The wall is 246.75 feet long and the angle at the vertex is 12512. The height of the wall at the vertex is 10.1 feet. The granite comes from Banglore, India; it was cut and fabricated at Barre, Vermont. The names were grit blasted in Memphis, Tennessee, with the height of individual letters being 0.53 inches and the depth, 0.038 inch. There are 58,209 names inscribed in chronological order of the date of casualty, showing the war as a series of individual human sacrifices and giving each name a special place in history.

While visiting the Vietnam Wall, I was able to take a rubbing of two names on that wall. The first name I made a rubbing of was Robert G. Davison and the second was Howard W. Bannister. I am not related to either of these men and have no idea who they are. All I know is that they were soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam. These two men may have had a wife, children, and perhaps led a successful life before they were called to duty. I do know one thing for sure, these two men were probably the sons of very proud parents. Even though they are dead, just because I took a rubbing of their names, I know they are not forgotten. These men may have lost their lives in the line of duty, fighting for a cause, or even trying to save other soldiers lives. We do not know their stories, but we do know that they died fighting for our freedom. Thank you!

Memorial Day for me is a time to put flowers on my grandpas grave. He fought in the Korean War. He may not have been awarded fancy medals, but he is my hero! Thanks Grandpa!

When I think of Memorial Day the lyrics to a song stick out in my mind. I do not know the title of the song or who wrote it, but that doesnt change the meaning of the words. Here are the words as I remember them: And Im proud to be an American, where at least I know Im free. And I wont forget the men who died and gave that right to me. And Ill gladly stand up, next to you and defend Her still today. Cause there aint no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.!!!

Thank you to all those who have served and died to make this country a better place!

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