Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


May 26, 2013

Memorial Day — Appreciate our veterans’ sacrifices

— Memorial Day is usually associated with long weekends, family reunions and cookouts, so it is easy to forget the purpose behind the holiday. It is a time to remember the men and women who made sacrifices — and often the ultimate sacrifice — so the United States of America could exist and remain free.

The holiday was officially created in 1868, and the state of New York officially recognized it in 1873. Memorial Day was created to honor the thousands of men who lost their lives during the bloodiest conflict on the North American continent, the Civil War. After World War I, the holiday was modified to honor veterans of all wars and not just the ones from the Civil War. Now all veterans of every conflict starting with the Revolutionary War all the way to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have their own special day.

As the years passed, the holiday became associated more with leisure time than honoring the men and women who had served their country. World War II helped bring Memorial Day’s true purpose back into focus again, and the Korean War not along afterwards generated new lists of men and women who deserved to be honored. The Vietnam War added thousands more to the list, and wars and actions in the Middle East and other parts of the globe bring even more.

Memorial Day also honors the men and women who work to keep the nation safe at all times, not just times of war. They spend months and even years away from their families on tours of duty taking them across the country and overseas. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines undertake dangerous duties every day. They patrol vast areas of land, sea lanes and airspace, and stand watch along borders with hostile forces sometimes within shouting distance. They are constantly near people who wish to do them harm. Nature throws bitter cold, terrible heat, and powerful storms into their lives as well. Military life is not built around comfort.

Memorial Day is a good time to thank veterans for their service to the nation. Showing appreciation can be as simple as offering a handshake and thanking them for their service. Veterans often need financial help, medical treatment and counseling when they come home, so supporting the services they require is another way to say thank you. People who serve their country and continue to serve their country do not deserve to be cast aside.

Today, please take time to remember the people who made a life of peace and prosperity possible.

A Memorial Day ceremony will be conducted at Chicory Square in downtown Bluefield on today. It begins at 10:30 a.m., and the American Legion Riley Vest Post No. 9 is sponsoring the event. A Memorial Day Parade will also take place in the town of Bramwell at 2:30 p.m.


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