Tuesday, May 31, 2016


One of the plaques at the entrance to Memorial Park in Thurmont, MD.

This past weekend, for many, was a three day weekend filled with cookouts, trips to the beach and the official start of summer. But for many others this past weekend marks a time for solitude and remembrance for those servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. 
Monument at Memorial Park in Thurmont.
As with many other holidays in America, we have forgotten the real meaning behind why we even have the holiday. I think had we kept the original name, Decoration Day, more people might realize what this day is supposed to signify. It is not a day to honor our veterans (Veteran’s Day) or a day to honor our men and women who are actively serving (Armed Force’s Day). It is a day to honor those who have served and paid for our freedom with their blood by laying flowers on their graves. At least that’s what I used to think until yesterday.
Thurmont scouting units presenting the colors.
Each Memorial Day the American Legion in my small town pays its own tribute to those fallen brothers and sisters. The scouts and the Legion place flags upon their graves and hold a solemn memorial service at our town’s Memorial Park. It’s a sobering affect each year as the number of veterans paying tribute slowly dwindles.
Ryley and I in front of the Korean Conflict Memorial.
After the flag raising and wreath laying ceremony at Memorial Park Ryley and I posed for a picture in front of the Korean Conflict Memorial, as my father is a veteran of that conflict. I noticed another scout leader in front of the Vietnam Conflict Memorial with his son. He was explaining how his father had served in Vietnam but was lucky enough to make it home alive. He went on to relay how he had recently passed away due, in large part, to complications from Agent Orange.
The original Memorial at Memorial Park, for our town's WWI heroes.
Then it hit me. Even though this man had not given his life while in Vietnam, he surely had given the rest of his life living with the effects from the war. Just because he managed to live out a full life doesn’t mean his sacrifice was any less. I am sure he endured pain and suffering because of his exposure to Agent Orange. Nor does it mean that any other veteran, whether injured during battle or with PTSD, hasn’t sacrificed more than they had to for our freedom. Maybe Memorial Day needs to be something more than what it was intended to be after all. Maybe we should start recognizing those who have sacrificed all, or part, of themselves for our freedom. In doing so perhaps we can change this from a three-day weekend of partying into what it truly ought to be; a day to recognize and appreciate all those that have sacrificed to give us the freedoms we hold so dear. Until then keep taking your kids outdoors… 
Words cannot thank them enough.

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