WHAT TO REMEMBER ON MEMORIAL DAY
By Senator Nancy Jacobs
This Memorial Day there will be many picnics. There will be many people heading off to the shopping mall for some excellent sales, and of course a weekend in Ocean City. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually it’s a lot of fun to be around friends, have a crab feast, with the excitement that summer is about to begin.
But what I do hope is that everyone on this Memorial Day will remember that we have those freedoms to do as we please in America, because of our soldiers. They are the ones who fought to allow us to have those freedoms and our liberty in this great country! Many lives have been lost to guarantee it. And on this Memorial Day we must thank them and their families for this ultimate sacrifice.
I am inspired by the words of Charles Province who says:
It’s the soldier, not the reporter who has given us Freedom of the Press.
It’s the soldier, not the poet, who’s given us Freedom of Speech
It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer, who’s given us Freedom to demonstrate…
The nation and culture we are so lucky to enjoy, America’s greatness really, can be attributed to a soldiers sacrifice. We must never forget this incredible gift. Young men and women going off to war, nowadays to places like the mountainous region of Afghanistan, a most unfriendly and dangerous place. They go against a crazed enemy driven by religious fervor who’s willing to commit suicide to kill large numbers of innocent people. They cross roads where IEDs lurk that could take their leg in an instant.
We must never forget that service and those risks taken are directly linked to protecting the lifestyle we enjoy here at home.
Why do they do it? It comes down to the ideals upon which our country was built.
Defending a way of life they believe is worth dying for. They are protecting American families, children, freedom, morality, values and responsibilities. And like a marriage to the one you love, they didn’t it for better or for worse. They did it for people here in their homeland, people they may never have met face to face.
Their families should be so proud of their service and sacrifice. Every one of us thanks you from the bottom of our hearts. These are the best American’s, these men and women who’ve given their lives. They are the ones who make our country great. And now in their absence, in their honorable death, we must thank you, their families, profusely for the freedom we have today here in Maryland on Memorial Day. We have the freedom to have a democracy where people aren’t tried and convicted without evidence. We have the freedom where even the craziest of ideas is allowed to be spoken in the street. The freedom for a mother to dream her son or daughter, no matter who they are, could one day be president because it is possible.
I am a mother and grandmother. I look into my grandchildren’s eyes and think about the future. I look forward to the day they will graduate, marry and have children of their own. Nothing could be more painful than to think of them losing their lives. It is through this lens that everyone must view the death of our soldiers on the battlefield so they can come to terms with the actual sacrifice given, and to feel the pain and loss suffered by that soldier’s their parents, their wife or husband, their brother or sister, and of course their children.
Young men and women go off to war and it’s true, they may not fully grasp the dangers when they leave. Then they experience war which can be chaotic and horrifying. It’s an experience many coming home prefer not to discuss. Many suffer wounds, both mental and physical. They must get back into society when they come and reunite with spouses and children from whom they’ve been separated. They must find a job. It isn’t easy. What’s even worse is when we lose them to battle.
Did you know that Memorial Day began in the Confederate South when women and children decorated the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War? At first it was called Decoration Day. It was done in different towns in the south on various weekends in May. Ultimately the federal government made it a national holiday, Memorial Day, and rightly so.
What is it that inspires young men and women from Maryland to rise to the challenge of serving their country? Even though that service can end in death or dismemberment? I believe the answer is they have values instilled in their heart. They are loyal, respectful, selfless and honorable. Most of all they are courageous.
Listen to these numbers of soldiers who have died in the wars in recent history:
In World War 2, over 400 thousand died
In Korea we lost 37 thousand soldiers
In Viet Nam 58 thousand American’s were killed
And in the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan 6280 soldiers have died
I hope the next time each of us sees a soldier in uniform we walk right up and thank them for their service, for the risk they are taking for us. But they are humble.
President Truman said this about war and soldiers:
“I think I know the American Soldier…He does not want gratitude or sympathy. He had a job to do. He did not like it. But he did it. And how he did it! Now he wants to come back home and start again the life he loved.”
The cold truth, the hard truth is that some of our soldiers never come home. And we grieve and their families grieve. Today and every day we must remember that. And thank them over and over again.
Many of us come from various political beliefs. You may be pacifists. Or you may believe in a strong defense. Today is a day to put all of that aside…and respect and honor those who fought, gave their lives, and those who stand ready to do just that again today.