30 May 2011

Let us never forget.

JFK's famous words at Arlington National Cemetery

I’m annoyed this Memorial Day.  On the front page of my hometown paper there is a huge headline, “Memories of War.”  This article features four gentlemen who served for our country…in WWII.  Now while I know that their sacrifices are honorable and deserving respect it perturbs me that this completed the entirety of the coverage. 

I know one of the reasons I'm out here is to show the troops fighting these wars that they are not forgotten, but here in my hometown newspaper is proof that to some they are.  Here are four accounts that are nostalgic, but unrelatable to most of today’s population as the men discuss their war stories from 1944.  Have we forgotten that there are men and women still dying for us TODAY?

Where are the stories this Memorial Day from a soldier, airman, marine, sailor, who just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan?

There are also three editorials in the paper, two of three which mention have no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan.  I think we are doing a disservice to ourselves if this Memorial Day we just sit back and only think of these old troops who are enjoying their golden years, but still haunted by memories of their time at war.  They get to have their golden years.  

We also need to remember this Memorial Day the men and women who lost their lives this past year, and the past ten years. 
Temporary headstones and newly made plots at Arlington eerily waiting for casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan to fill them

The ones who will never get to see their daughter or son grow up.  The ones who were never even old enough to legally drink a beer.  The ones who fought hard and laid down their life for a friend.  The ones who never saw it coming.  The ones who suffered.  The ones who now live, but without a limb.  The ones who have seen a friend die right beside them, but still go out the next day to that same place to do their job.

Along with our WWII and Vietnam veterans we need to remember these men and women, our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  We need to not let a day go by that we don’t think about our troops, because that one day you forgot that they are out here at least one family is heartbroken because their brother, sister, son, daughter, husband, wife, friend has been killed.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I encourage everyone to join the Facebook group, “Military Wall of Honor.”  It is a group that posts about every troop that perishes in Iraq and Afghanistan.  After posting the war casualty, this dedicated group of volunteers then tries to find as much information as possible about the deceased to make them real to all of us.  They put up pictures from their Facebook profile pics and list comments that people have left on the deceased’s wall.  They also tell the official story of how they paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. 

As I scroll through my news feed laughing at the latest pictures of my friend’s bar hopping or stalking someone’s statuses, I’ll come across a Military Wall of Honor posting.  For a moment when I see that young face of a smiling troop looking back at me, I am reminded he or she is gone now.  I always take a second, even if it is just a second, to say a prayer for the fallen troop and their family and loved ones.  In that moment they are not forgotten.

This is a link to the story, "The Marble of our Heroes' Headstones" shown on CBS News Sunday Morning about the creation of headstones at national cemeteries.  It features the creation of Daren Hidalgo's headstone.

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