Memorial Day 2012
When flags are raised this morning, they will first go to the top of the pole, than get solemnly lowered to half staff as a symbol of national mourning. However, unique to the United States, at noon the flag will climb back to the top of the pole until the end of the day. The reason for this is that while the country mourns it’s young men and women who will never again come home, their sacrifices have resulted in this country and it’s people surviving and continuing on without them. It isn’t dissimilar to a funeral, first there is mourning, final goodbyes and so on. The deceased is buried then a reception of sorts takes place, often the reception is a happy event, stories of the deceased are told, laughter and hilarity often ensues, often times, beers are drunk in their honor, and so forth.
In short, if we set aside the whole day as a day of mourning we would be doing the 1 million+ soldiers, seaman, airmen and marines that have died in the service a disservice. Instead, we more or less observe what George Patton said in June of 1945:
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men ever lived.
~George S. Patton, General, US Army
Today people should take a look at the receipt for our freedom (spread across the US, Europe, the Pacific and countless other places in the form of headstones), and note the strict return policy: no returns, no refunds.
So have a BBQ, drink some beer, and take advantage of the fact that no country nor any other enemy has ever been even marginally successful in suppressing the United States and it’s people. Today, I will remember my friends who will never come home, as well as all the others. As an example, six, that I know of, from my basic training class will never be home again, three of whom were killed in combat, the other three died in training accidents and other service connected, but non-combat circumstances.
People too often forget that military service, whether during war or during peace, is inherently dangerous and risky, and men and women still die in your service even if the eagle carries an olive branch, rather than an arrow.