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Tell It Like It Is


Memorial Day — A Tribute To Those Who Fell




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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
May 29, 2011 | 1,480 views | 1 comment

Harlingen, Texas, May 30, 2011: Memorial Day, it has been with us in various forms since the end of the Civil War. Since that time there were localized versions of this special day across the country. The first report of an observance is recorded as a time when widows of the southern soldiers decorated the graves of their fallen husbands. In 1966 it became an official United States holiday. The purpose of the holiday has always been to pay tribute to those who fell in battle or died while wearing the uniform of their country.

With deep regret, I have observed far too many American military men and some women in coffins, draped in the flag of our nation, and carried to their final resting place. All too many of them did not receive the real gratitude of a thankful nation.

As the many fallen Marines of World War II were being returned to their homeland, I found myself being selected to be part of an official burial unit. It was a solemn and heart wrenching tour of duty. Each day we would participate in one, two and sometimes three funerals. Each one of the fallen Marines received full military honors.

The attendance at those funerals varied. At times there were huge numbers of family members and friends at the services and the graveside. At others there were only a sprinkling of mourners. The saddest funerals of all were those where the military detail and the chaplain reading scriptures were the only people there to see that Marine go to his final rest. It seemed so wrong that a man who had made the ultimate sacrifice, a man who had given his life on behalf of a nation, would not have a gathering in his memory and honor.

Since those days of the late 1940s thousands upon thousands of young men and women have clothed themselves in the uniforms of the USA and journeyed off to war. There were many of these warriors who returned to their homeland in that flag draped coffin and went to their rest bathed in the haunting sounds of Taps. Today there are still many more military funerals and more mourners at the graveside.

Another Memorial Day is upon us. It is time, once again to honor the fallen. Regretfully we note that most Americans find themselves just to busy to remember, or offer a moment of appreciation. Do most Americans even pause to give a silent “thank you” to all of those brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice? The answer to that rhetorical question is a resounding “No!”

As we watch our television advertisements and read our daily newspapers there are very few tributes to our fallen military. There are ample articles about the start of the summer holiday season. There are others about how far Americans will be traveling this Memorial Day as they “suffer” the high gasoline prices that have impacted the entire country. There are even articles about the increased cost of food for the holiday barbeque and the higher cost of dining out.

Americans will also see the Stars and Stripes in its full glory at every Memorial Day Sale in the country. Even the Internet will be loaded with all of those special Memorial Day bargains. In some locales Fireworks will help light up the evening sky. There will be a few prayers and soft words as family members stand next to engraved headstones. Most of America, however, will be found at the Mall...or perhaps bikini watching at the beach.

Semper Fidelis
 
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Elaine K.  
Floresville  
May 29, 2011 8:24pm
 
Memorial Day column posted.

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