2017-05-19 / Viewpoint

Memorial Day: Honoring our fallen heroes


Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect and express our gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

Since the Revolutionary War, nearly 1.4 million men and women have given their lives to ensure U.S. citizens live in a free and welcoming country. This includes the nearly 9,000 service members who perished since 2001 fighting a war on global terrorism in the Middle East.

The origin of Memorial Day dates to shortly after the end of the American Civil War in 1868. It was initially known as Decoration Day.

The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate and honor the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.

As time passed, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

In keeping with this time-honored tradition, Fort Gordon’s Survivor Outreach Services is hosting a Warrior Remembrance Ceremony, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Gordon Conference and Catering Center. This annual event is an opportunity to honor fallen service members and reflect on the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. The SOS event allows Fort Gordon community members to honor fallen Service Members while letting survivors know they are also important part of the military community.

This year, we commemorate the sacrifices of service members on Monday, May 29. This holiday resonates for many of us who served or are still serving. Those of us who remain often have a sense of luck and guilt. Nearly all of us have been affected by the losses of friends and family who are fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

I have a friend, who has suffered loss on a scale that is almost unimaginable. A former Army officer, she has been married to two Soldiers, both of whom were killed in combat. And yet, she continues to carry on. In spite of these horrendous losses, she has raised a son and she also continues to work for the Department of the Army.

I can’t begin to imagine bearing her grief and the emotional hardship and yet I know that she is not alone in her grief. She and many other survivors of such traumatic sacrifices are in our thoughts, prayers and meditations. Memorial Day is not just about the fallen, it is a day to come together as a country and let survivors know that their loved one’s sacrifice was not in vain – that our nation is grateful.

Let’s take the time to reflect and honor our fallen heroes and their surviving family members and friends this Memorial Day.

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