A Salute to Soldiers
The month of May is National Military Appreciation Month, as well as Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. We can continue to show that we stand united behind our Armed Forces all year round. After all, our country is free because of those brave patriots who have been safeguarding our liberties ever since the American Revolution. President Henry Truman acknowledged this fact when he said, “I always considered statesmen to be more expendable than soldiers.” All military men and women deserve our appreciation, support, and respect.
As George Orwell once stated, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Today, a new generation of defenders have committed themselves to the cause of freedom. While we honor fallen patriots of the past, let us also recognize the heroes of the present. The military continues to reflect the core values upon which our nation was founded, and the majority of service men and women serve honorably and well.
In general, military people do not choose to serve because they have great expectations of fame or reaping huge rewards from military service. Most are ordinary people with simple motives – honor, duty, and love of country. In the words of Frederic Remington, “Soldiers, like other men, found more hard work than glory in their calling.” Over the years they have been deployed around the globe, enduring many hardships, so that we can enjoy our bountiful gifts here at home. They do not hesitate to serve our nation in times of crisis. Likewise, we must not neglect to honor them – especially those who have given their lives for their country.
Did You Know…?
Almost 90,000 American soldiers from World War II to the Vietnam War that were listed as Missing in Action (MIA) or as Prisoners of War (POW) are still unaccounted for. More than one million Americans have died in the service of our country, including many American military personnel who have been killed in the war on terrorism. Of the 25 million living veterans, over 1.4 million still live with wounds they suffered while fighting for us.
“They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.” ~General James A. Garfield
Memorial Day Traditions
Originally called Decoration Day after the Civil War, this holiday was actually a national day of mourning set aside to pay tribute to those who died in our nation's service, and to decorate the graves of the war dead with flags and flowers. American flags are placed on each grave at national memorial cemeteries across the country. Memorial Day serves to remind us that the preservation of our way of life is a serious responsibility that requires eternal vigilance and should not be taken lightly. Memorial Day should be a day when we actively remember our ancestors, family members, neighbors, and countrymen who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Take some time over the long weekend to teach children the true meaning of Memorial Day. Make the observance of Memorial Day a family tradition to pass down to future generations. Display some old fashioned patriotism and fly the American flag with gratitude and pride. The American flag is traditionally placed at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day. Attend a Memorial Day parade or speech. Wear red, white, and blue. Sing patriotic songs. Visit a veterans memorial. Put flags or flowers on the graves of veterans and loved ones. Observe a moment of silence in honor of those who gave their lives for their country, perhaps followed by a rendition of “Taps.” Donate to veterans groups such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. Since World War I, red paper poppies have been sold to raise money for disabled veterans. Take part in the annual national moment of remembrance (a minute of prayer or silence) at 3:00 pm on Memorial Day. Offer a prayer to those who are currently serving our country, as well as thanking those who proudly served before. Pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of deceased veterans.
Soldier, Rest from "The Lady of the Lake"
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,
From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli;
It’s a tradition to honor brave soldiers with medals, pins, and ribbons. You can make some colorful pins for awarding to cherished veterans in appreciation for their sacrifices, dedication, and service. Make one for yourself, too, and wear it on your shirt for Veterans Day. You will need: large safety pins, colored beads (red, white, blue), thin yellow ribbon, white glue, waxed paper, scissors. Directions: Thread a pattern of red, white, and blue colored beads onto the pin side of a large safety pin. Glue the beads onto the pin. Let them dry on waxed paper. Tie a little yellow ribbon onto the other arm of each pin, so that when you are wearing it the beads are on top and the ribbon hangs down. The yellow ribbon is a remembrance for prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action, and all military men and women who are far away from home.
Support the Troops
-Fly the American flag on your house, car, or business.
-Organize an event at school, church, in your community or workplace to recognize our armed forces.
-Register your support at www.ourmilitary.mil.
-Whenever you see a person in a military uniform, shake their hand and say, “thank you for serving our country.”
-Raise funds for military charities.
-Send a letter, e-mail, or care package to a soldier. If you have an APO or other military mailing address of a loved one serving overseas, you may write letters and assemble your own care package to be sent via regular US Mail to your service member. If not, you may wish to make your contribution through one of the following organizations:
www.nmam.org (National Military Appreciation Month)
www.usmemorialday.org (Memorial Day history and information, including poems, prayers, speeches, "Taps," and more.)
http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate_americas_freedoms.asp (Celebrating America's Freedoms: 14 essays about the country's most familiar symbols, customs, and observances.)
http://shawn_richardson.typepad.com (A Soldier’s Blog.)
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