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Remember the Veterans

By 1st Sgt. Richard N. Brinkerhoff
U.S. Army Retired Bicknell


On this day, that has been set aside to honor our Veterans who have died, I feel that Memorial Day has become nothing more than a three-day weekend.

For decades, Memorial Day was a day in our Nation when stores closed and communities gathered together for a day of parades and other celebrations with a patriotic theme. Memorial Day meant ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, speeches honoring those who served their country, the laying of wreaths and playing Taps...not off to the mall, riding dirt bikes out in the sand or laying around watching TV. Sadly, many Americans have lost the connection with their history. All too many Americans today view military service as an abstraction, as images seen on TV and in the movies. For a growing percentage of American people, Memorial Day has come to mean simply a three day weekend or a major shopping day. Families might still gather for picnics, but for many of them, the patriotic core-the spirit of remembrance-is absent.

We can all make a difference with our individual acts. When we find a grave that has no flowers, leave one and say a prayer for the family of that person, who for some reason could not bring their soldier or family member flowers. It is important that those of us who understand the importance of our history, who understand the importance of our Army, who understand the importance of the values of our Army-that we act to help reconnect the American people to the American soldier.

Listen to the words by Charles M. Province. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag. And, to add that it is the soldier who allows the protester to burn the flag, to call him all kinds of names, even though his protest is giving his enemy aid and the will to fight and to kill him. I give thanks to military personnel and Veterans for giving me the right to say "I am American" and giving me these rights and privileges. I may think as I please; I may speak or write as I please, so long as I do not interfere with the rights of others; I have the right to vote. By my vote, I choose the public officers who are really my servants.

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