Opinion

A time to honor fallen heroes

JUST JACK

On May 30, 1868, at the direction of the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the graves of federal soldiers who perished in the war between the states were to be decorated and appropriate services of remembrance conducted. Originally called Decoration Day, the national day of recognition for those who have gave their all in the service of our nation has been expanded to include all of our fallen heroes and renamed Memorial Day. The original date of May 30 has been changed to support the more politically correct and business friendly three-day weekend, but the meaning of the day and the seriousness of the honor we bestow on our national heroes should never change. I recall to this day the exceptional honor I felt as a young midshipman, when participating in Memorial Day ceremonies at the amphitheater at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Ceremony. The only way we can ever repay the debt we owe these heroes is to continue their mission to “protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic” every day of our lives.

There are several local celebrations and memorial services that you may wish to attend to pay your respects. Two that I am very familiar with because of my affiliation with the organizations are in Bremerton and Poulsbo.

Onboard the USS Turner Joy, at the Bremerton boardwalk, The Navy League conducts its memorial service. The event is at 10 a.m. Monday, May 25 on the fantail of USS Turner Joy. Capt. Mark Olson, commanding officer, Naval Base Kitsap, is the guest speaker. The service will be supported by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Color Guard and the Ceremonial Honor Guard of District 4 VFW. The service includes a memorial wreath laying from the ship. Past ceremonies have been graced with “fly-bys” by one or more of the local bald eagles who seem to approve of the honor being bestowed on our heroes.

In Poulsbo, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsor the event at the waterfront gazebo. The event is at noon Monday, May 25. Supporting the service will be a multi-service color guard, and Veterans Honor Guard. A wreath will be laid in Liberty Bay.

Come rain or shine, please demonstrate your thanks and respect for those who gave their all so that we might live in continued freedom. A few hours of our time is so little to offer in return for lives cut short and souls committed to eternity.

While we pay respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, let us not forget those who serve us today and who have dedicated themselves to a similar sacrifice. Many of those active duty and reserve members, who live among us here in Kitsap, have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have faced the dangers of conflict and combat and may be called upon to return to those areas in the future. While it is just and proper to honor those who have fallen, it is so much more meaningful to extend our respect and thanks to those warriors at every opportunity. The young men and women who are dedicating their lives and efforts to the security of our nation ask for nothing more than the proper equipment to complete their mission, the proper training to enable them to perform well and the support of their comrades in battle. They are our sons and daughters who understand freedom is not free and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. A simple “thank you for your service and all you do for us” has more meaning than most anything else we have to offer. Even if you do not agree with a national political policy, can you not find a way to honor those who serve to protect your right to disagree? Can it be too much for us to each offer them our gratitude for their service and a job well done?

Oh, on May 30, the actual Memorial Day, can we all take a minute to remember those who gave all they would ever have for us, one more time?

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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