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The Meaning of Memorial Day

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Too many people think of Memorial Day as the weekend that kicks off the summer season, but my mother is spending part of the day at the National Cemetery in Bourne, MA, where my father is buried, having served in the Korean War. Let us not forget the true meaning behind Memorial Day.

If you look up the definition of “soldier” in the dictionary, it will say: an enlisted man or woman, a skilled warrior, someone engaged in military service. Why doesn’t it mention bravery, honor, or sacrifice?

If you are a history buff and have read the stories about the men who served in Vietnam or today’s men and woman serving in Afghanistan, you realize that the definition of soldier lacks the obvious. These people have superior discipline and are far above average in ability, when it comes to having courage and valuing honor.

You may know someone who was a soldier or is presently serving; maybe it’s your son or daughter. I’m sure you are spending today thinking about them and admiring their tenacity and patriotic spirit, or you may be missing them because they never returned home from the war. They made an ultimate sacrifice for the good of their country or for insuring freedom for others.

To listen to an elderly gentleman recall the events of Pearl Harbor or battles he fought in the Pacific, you realize that the individual was probably just a kid himself when he faced these dangers in an unknown land. He might have watched helplessly as a friend slowly died of bullet wounds, and he may have a scar or two himself of where shrapnel was removed from his own body, but he has no regrets for having served. He is one of the brave, the elite, who was called to serve with honor.

So, enjoy today’s cookouts and pool parties and the joy of wearing white again—but never forget the fallen and the men and women who serve in today’s military. Remember to thank them.


Dave’s Scrapbook

A fantastically detailed, well written account of Dave’s experiences during the Vietnam War, from the time he received his draft notice to the day he got to go home (Use the links at the top of the page to travel through Dave’s recollections).

The Vietnam Memorial Wall Web Page

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall USA website is dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. Since it first went on line in 1996 it has evolved into something more. It is now also a place of healing for those affected by one of the most divisive wars in our nation’s history.”

Heroes in the War on Terror

“Since September 2006, the Department of Defense has highlighted the military men and women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the Global War on Terror. These are our American Heroes’ stories.”

Heroes of World War II

“Inspiring stories and fascinating details on the 440 American heroes of World War II who were recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Fox 3 Aviation and Military Art

He is an acquaintance of mine, who is supremely talented at capturing what combat looks like from the fighter pilot’s perspective,. He has art work that you can enjoy or purchase. Lt. Col Mike McGee, USAF (Ret.) has a collection that is well worth checking out!


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About Luanne Stevenson

Published Ghost Writer; Freelance Writer
  • Just beautifully said, Luanne. Thank you!

  • Luanne Stevenson

    Thank you Victor!

  • Costello

    I question whether this author has actually read stories about today’s men in Afghanistan? Recently, Staff Sgt David Bram was the sixth soldier charged with murdering Afghan civilians for sport. What’s superior or above average in that behavior?

    I believe in honoring those who deserve to be honored as opposed to making blanket statements that include those who don’t.

  • I agree with you, Costello, but you’re being rather unfair.

    Is “murdering Afghan civilians for sport” an actual offense in the Army Code? Do we know for sure that this is what the other five soldiers were doing? And is six out of who knows how many hundred thousands really a significant trend or just the behavior of a few morons?

  • Costello

    The AP has an article about the details but considering the men are being court martialed, it’s probaly fair to say it’s against the Army Code. All I know for sure is what’s been reported, but one of the six has offered to testify against the others. I didn’t say it was a trend, but these aren’t the only six who have disgraced the uniform and the country. Are you as poorly informed as the author?

  • Luanne Stevenson

    Dear Costello,
    I want to thank you for all your comments. You are right about those men and you are also accurate in pointing out that there are men and women in the armed forces that disgrace this country and do not deserve any admiration or honor; just like not all of the Presidents deserve the same honor as Abraham Lincoln, as they have caused disgrace to our country (Watergate,Monica Lewinski for two examples)
    However, I was not making a blanket statement when I wrote this article. I was thinking about my father who passed away and was a marine who served in the Korean War. He deserves this honor.
    I was also thinking about a seventy-something gentleman, who I took care of last fall, who was awarded a purple heart during WWII. He’d tell me stories about the war, show me his battle scars and with pride tell me that he loves this country and would serve all over again if he wasn’t such a “crotchety, old coon” (those are his words not mine.)
    I thought of my brother who was a naval officer during the Persian Gulf War and now is a Secret Service Agent. He deserves honor.
    My other brother served in the army and was in an elite group. He now is a minister in VA. He deserves honor.
    A twenty-four-year old neighbor of mine never returned home from the Iraq War. His family and I both agree, he deserves honor.
    And there are thousands of others who sacrifice a lot to serve their country.
    I am not poorly informed. I am respectful to the men and women (some that I know personally) who report to duty and I do admire them.
    You have every right to be disgusted by this incident in Afghanistan, and by other incidents that have been equally disgraceful.But the majority of people are deserving of our gratitude and respect.
    In any profession there are “bad seeds”. Think about the teaching profession (where I belonged for 14 years) and the scandals re; sexual abuse with students by coaches or teachers.Does that make me belong in the same category with these unethical, predatory teachers? I think not.
    There will always be people who join and deserve to be thrown out–but when you look at many who served in our country’s history
    or meet many of the young people serving today,you would have to agree that the “good soldiers” out number “bad”.
    I am not uninformed and wonder where your anger comes from, but thanking for sharing your opinion, although it differs from my own.

  • I was also thinking about a seventy-something gentleman, who I took care of last fall, who was awarded a purple heart during WWII.

    He’d have to have been a bit older than that, unless he lied about his age when he enlisted (and plenty did). A serviceman who was 18 in 1945 would have celebrated his 83rd birthday in 2010.

  • Baronius

    I get the point of the article, and I thank you for writing it. Let me ask a question that seemingly completely misses the point of the article: didn’t Memorial Day used to be the day of remembering the fallen soldiers, with Veteran’s Day for the remembrance of all soldiers who fought? I can’t get upset over veterans being recognized on Memorial Day, but it does seem wrong.

  • Luanne Stevenson

    In response to “Dr. Dreadful”–This man lied about his age because he wanted to go to war for his country. He told me he was only 16 and got away with it because he was tall. That would make him 81. I never asked him his age but guessed he was in his late seventies–but now I realize he must have been in his early eighties. His age is all relative–my point was that I respected him for being in the war and having so much courage.
    In response to Baronius, you are right–The holiday is for fallen soldiers, but I guess where my family spent part of the day at a National Cemetery and there were thousands of flags that decorated the hill, I wanted to honor my dad.
    I’m really regretting that I even entered the article as it is drawing so much criticism. Remember–this is an “opinion” piece and we are all entitled to hold our own opinion. I’m hoping we can lay the topic to rest now. I was just missing my dad and thinking of all the people who are buried with him at the National Cemetery. I had no idea I’d be insulted for writing it (saying I’m uninformed). I guess I’m guilty of sharing my opinion which too many of you don’t agree with. I respect your position. Please respect mine and let’s just stop the debate or correcting me if a man is 79 or 81 (How the hell could I tell, if he doesn’t share his age with me. I really didn’t feel his age mattered).
    Anyway, even is you all didn’t like the article, I know my dad is smiling down on me and that is all that matters. I was thinking of him (most especially) when I wrote it. Let’s now put this to rest. Thank you.

  • Costello

    I am not angry. Instead, I’m frustrated by people who glorify all the military, when all aren’t deserving. If you go back, you’ll see you did make some blanket statements, like your addedum to the definition of soldier. Plenty of people don’t find honor in killing innocent people

  • Leroy

    Memorial Day is purposed to memorialize Dead Soldiers. Anything else is superfluous. It is not a time to throw confetti and cheer heroes. It is to honor dead people and is best done quietly and in silent contemplation. Honor the dead.

  • Jasmine

    I agree