Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Much More Important Than Picnics And Brats

This weekend is one that marks the beginning of summer, a time where families and friends will gather and enjoy picnics, parades, brats, perhaps swimming. A weekend to share fun with good friends and loved onees.

But lest we forget the meaning and roots of Memorial Day. Originally known as Decoration Day, it is a time to honor those who have served our nation's military, and are no longer with us. Whether they fell in battle, making the ultimate sacrifice, or survived those many conflicts that kept this nation free, made a life, raised a family, and succumbed in some other fashion.

It is a time of solemn remembrance.

Yesterday morning I witnessed a 90-minute, moving scene in Powell, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. There, in  a solemn ceremony, large American flags on pvc poles were marched four-at-a-time in the capable hands of a Boy Scout Honor Guard, and affixed on metal rods in the ground. With the "planting" of each flagpole, a name was read by the Boy Scout leading the cermony. The young man in full Class A BSA uniform organized the ceremony as part of his Eagle Scout project.

He ready 239 names.

The 239? Ohioans who have worn our nation's uniform, and who were killed in action in Iraq and Afganistan.since the Global War On Terror began shortly after the murderous attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001.

A very small turnout for the cermony, its meaning, however, is thought-provoking. And a stark reminder of those who have gone before us in the fight for freedom. The display, at the Greater Powell Veterans Memorial in Village Green Park, can be visited 24 hours a day. Local Boy Scout Troop 428 is watching over the flags, which are lit at night.

The Ohio Flags of Honor Memorial is a traveling tribute started by Gino and Lisa Zimmer of Columbus, whose son, Army Spc. Nicholaus Zimmer, was killed in Iraq. They formed a nonprofit organization and tour with the flags a few times a year. A total of 550 flags, including American flags, and flags representing the various military branches, MIA/POW, and message of support to the troops are in the entire display.

Please take a moment this weekend to remember those military who were killed in action defending America all during out nation's history, and those who served, came home to civilian life, and today are no longer with us. I am reminded of my father, who served in WW2, and earned a combat medical badge and a bronze star for heroic action during landings at Okinawa and Leyte Gulf. Dad, you have been gone nearly 18 years, but your nation, and your son, thank you for sacrificing your youth to defend our nation.

The Memorial Day weekend. .... A time for gatherings of friends and family .... A day of solemn remembrance ....

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