When I was a little girl, Memorial Day around my grandparents’ community in Arkansas was known as “Decoration Day.”
On Saturday, families would meet and tidy up the church cemetery. They would cut overgrown grass and trim around the headstones. Then they always finished by placing fresh flowers on the graves.
On this Memorial Day, I cannot help but contemplate the sacrifice of those in my family. I have heard about Charlie’s grandfather as a 21-year-old marching across France in World War I.
Last year, when we viewed the World War II memorial, I saw those pillars to the 50 states and thought of the family member who were touched by the loss of life in World War II. I contemplate my father’s patriotism and his service in World War II in the Army. I listened to stories of the war from my Uncle Keith, who was an infantryman stationed in Italy in World War II. I salute my brother-in-law, who served a difficult tour in Vietnam and his first cousin who lost two legs and an arm due to a land mine.
Our nation should never forget. We should revere all veterans who gave their lives so we all might reap the vast benefits of freedom.
The Old Testament character Jonathan died in battle at Mount Gilboa fighting against the invading Philistines, who were the enemies of Israel and God. When Jonathan died, David cried and showed his deep affection for his friend. His tribute to the fallen soldier is recorded in 2 Samuel. “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of battle! O Jonathan, thou was slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee my brother Jonathan.” (1 Samuel 25:26)
Through the years, this scenario has been played out time and time again in the homes of Americans when word came that a young husband, son or father had died in war. It has been the picture in churches, when a soldier’s remains have been shipped home for burial in a hometown. Then again, some never came home.
Yet, in our fast paced, materialistic world, I hope that we as a nation will not forget all veterans, living or dead, who gave so much that we may enjoy the benefits of a free country today.
Patriotism is a powerful concept and has great significance in our country. Patriotism is vital because it echoes who we are as a nation and where we have come from. It is imperative that the generations that follow us understand the traditions, memories and emotions that constitute our patriotism.
Yet, I fear that we too often take for granted our heritage. The danger lies when we think we are too sophisticated to tear up when “The Star Spangled Banner” is played or “America the Beautiful” is sung.
Let us all cherish America’s past for it was with martyrs’ blood that our country was bought.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: