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Memorial Day – A Time to Reflect
Andy LucasFor many in our Nation, Memorial Day in years past has become a day of fun for many with picnics, a paid day off and family gatherings, which is not a bad thing, but we must always remember truly where Memorial Day came from and its purpose, that we do not forget those sacrifices. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Memorial Day commemorations will once again be different this year. The coronavirus may force us to continue Memorial Day traditions virtually, privately with our families or social distanced. Nevertheless, it is important for us to take time this weekend to honor those who bravely gave their lives for all of us.
From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from World War I to World War II, from Korea to Vietnam, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, brave men and women have answered the call to defend our homeland and protect the helpless around the world in the name of peace. This Memorial Day, we remember the fallen and thank them for the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. We mourn their loss and celebrate the great gift they have bestowed upon us and the freedoms they protected.
We know Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is one of America's most solemn occasions. The tradition of Memorial Day dates to 1864 in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, which is the birthplace of Memorial Day. Three ladies decorated the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers, and the custom has continued every year since then.
The quick history of Memorial Day goes back many, many years to 1888, when it was called Decoration Day. In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was enacted to "provide for uniform annual observances" of Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. Additionally, the Monday Holiday Law established Columbus Day to be celebrated on the second Monday in October. With the passage of the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" in 1968, the observance of Memorial Day was permanently changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress. Since then, each year, at the end of May, cities across the Nation have lowered their flags to half-staff as a silent reminder of the cost of the freedom.
What makes these men and women unique is that, despite these global threats, they choose to rise to the challenge. They come from all walks of life. From coast to coast, every Main Street, farm, or even next door, our selfless warriors voluntarily walk away from the comforts of home to join the most elite force on this planet. They endure long hours in the field, countless months away from their families while downrange, and some even come face to face with those who wish to do us harm. These courageous Americans are deployed in more than over 100 countries around the world. From humanitarian missions to coalition force partnerships to counterterrorism operations, there is no mission, no challenge they cannot rise to meet.
“A nation, a community, a town reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” What better way to pay tribute to America's veterans on this Memorial Day than to quote one of our former President, John F. Kennedy. He knew then, in 1963, that it was imperative we honor and remember our veterans, as we should continue today. He said, “We must not forget the sacrifices of the many men and women who gave so much for the sake of this great country, and we must honor them with our gratitude”.
We know Freedom is not free. The incredible courage and actions of those who have fallen have enabled our freedom and way of life to continue. During this period, we had to embrace the shelter in place and the isolation has brought us to many quite times. I have watched the change of the season over the last couple of months and I have watched many sunrises and many sunsets from living in the rural part of our community. I am very thankful for my freedom and for the men and women who served our country and to the ones who continue to protect and serve.
Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”. On this Memorial Day, I join our community in recognizing the brave men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. As we know freedom is not free; it costs the blood shed by America's sons and daughters, who unselfishly served their country and laid down their lives for its protection. The impact of their sacrifice is enduring, forever felt by the parents, spouses, children, friends, and loved ones they left behind.
Over 1.1 million men and women have died in wartime throughout the span of our nation’s history. These numbers should truly humble us, as they represent people—individuals—who were brothers, husbands, mothers, sisters, friends. These were people woven into the fabric of communities across the nation and in our small community. They were loved. They were mourned. And they were missed. And they were from our community. One of my favorite times of the year in Cochran is when we see the Military Services Flags return to our community on July 4th and Veteran’s Day. Coach Sam Barrs and the City of Cochran does an awesome job with this program. This is honoring of our Veterans and Active members. This is our hometeam. These are our heroes. Talk about the names…. Many heroes that have served like Billy Ray Godfrey, former Commissioner Bob Brockman, Mayor Billy Yeomans. Some of my hometown heroes include Johnny Marvin Jarrell, Leonard Cone my Marine friend who was an awesome softball pitcher. George Powell, James Horne, Dudley Dykes, Edward Giddens to name a few from my neck of the woods.
Thank you …. We are humbled by your sacrifices, as we know they are great, and we commend the demonstrations of courage and strength that you have no doubt shown throughout the most difficult of times. Thank you for reading, God Bless our veterans and our service members and God Bless our community. Happy Memorial Day!