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Memorial Day 2013 – Pause and Reflect

The Civil War stands as having claimed the most US service member lives than any other war in our history.  In 1868, Union Army Major General John Logan formally declared a day in May to be set apart as ”Decoration DNever Forget Our Fallen Soldiers-731866ay”, a memorial occasion to honor those who served and fell in the Civil War.  It was a day that the North and South would set aside all their differences and come together in solidarity to pay tribute to their fallen warriors.  It eventually became a tradition for Americans to gather together in their communities across the nation, to pay homage with parades, speeches, prayers, and flowers placed on gravesites of those who served in uniform during this era.

During World War I, Decoration Day took on a greater meaning as the United States became engaged into another conflict.  Americans began paying tribute not only to those who died during the Civil War, but to also commemorate all American military who lost their lives in service to this country.  From World War II on, through the Korean War and Vietnam Wars, Decoration Day gradually became known as Mfuelner-web_s640x880emorial Day, and in 1967 Congress declared Memorial Day as the official name.  In 1971 it was declared an official federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May, and a tradition for all US citizens to honor the generations of patriots who fought and died in uniform to preserve the hard-won freedoms of this nation.

On Memorial Day the American Flag has an honored ritual in the manner in which it is displayed, and in observance of the fallen patriots.  In the morning the flag is swiftly raised to full staff, and then somberly lowered to the half-staff position where it remains until 12:00 noon.  It is then raised to full staff for the remainder of the day.  The meaning of this ceremonial tradition is two-fold: The half-staff position is in remembrance and gratitude of the over 1 million military service members who gave their lives in defense of our nation and its values.  At noon, the full staff position commemorates the memory of their sacrifices by the living, and the continuing resolution that their service be not in vain, but to carry on in upholding and protecting this country’s liberty.

Let us not forget that Memorial Day also marks the sacrifices of military families who lost a loved one in battle, or a wounded warrior who survived combat yet to lose their comrades in the process.  Leaving the battlefield never marks the end of war, as men and women in the military and the first-responder communities continue go out every day risking their lives to save others.   No one can really understand how the soul of a hero is formed, but without them our nation would not survive.   Memorial Day is a perfect day to honor courage, commitment, selfless service, and sacrifices.  Can we do any less?  As Winston Churchill put it, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”

This video, The Path of a Warrior, is a fitting tribute to our country’s fallen heroes across the generations.  Viewing it is a great way to pause and reflect on the cherished freedoms you hold dear and enjoy on this Memorial Day.  May it find a grateful place in your heart.  http://youtu.be/JKqT0-3JV5E

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