Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a U.S. federal holiday honoring and mourning the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. This day of commemoration started in the years that followed the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many people observe the day by visiting cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day.
I came from a family which lost three loved ones who died in action while serving in the U.S. Military. Perhaps as I reminisce, it may bring to mind the loved ones that you have lost under such circumstances. May God use their memory to spur us on to duty, love of God and love of country.
My dad’s younger brother joined the army before the start of World War II. He served honorably for three years. He earned the rank of Sergeant. Before his hitch ended, President Roosevelt extended the three-year commitments of soldiers for an additional six months. In that six months, my uncle was killed. He died in Belgium when a shell exploded near him. He is interred amongst 5,250 war dead in Epinal American Cemetery in France.
My mom’s older brother began his military life via the draft. At the time he was taken, he was a married man and the father of an infant son. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. He led his men on a mission in Germany, they had to take a hill. A shell exploded near my uncle and mortally wounded him. As he was dying, by walkie-talkie, he guided and encouraged his men on their mission. They took the hill! After his death, he was awarded the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action. His citation reads, “His conspicuous heroism and courageous loyalty to duty will live forever as an inspiration to his comrades.” He is interred with the 5072 American war dead in the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Luxembourg.
When I was 17, my cousin was drafted into the Army. He was sent to Vietnam. He served as an 18-year-old Private First Class. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V Device for Heroism. His citation describes his actions, “Upon arriving at the landing zone, his unit was met with heavy insurgent automatic and semi-automatic weapons fire. He quickly moved to the center the action, in complete disregard for his own personal safety, and began pouring heavy retaliatory fire upon the enemy. His rapid actions enabled other members of the unit to rout the enemy.” It goes on to state, “His spontaneous courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself and the 9th Infantry Division.“ Wounded severely from this encounter, he lost his life. He is buried at home on American soil.
I mention these loved ones “Lest We Forget” what they sacrificed for us. The phrase “Lest We Forget,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, admonishes us that “it should not be forgotten” what those who lost their lives at war did, while we live through times of relative peace.
May we remember to highly esteem and admire such honorable warriors as these and the many others who served.
“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” -General of the Armies, John J. Pershing