President hopes Americans will remember what Memorial Day truly represents
By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester
| | May 28, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
In 1868, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed a day of remembrance in honor of those men and women who had lost their lives in defense of their country. The White House Commission on Remembrance is encouraging Americans to pause for a moment of reflection this Memorial Day, honoring those who have died in service to the United States.
The National Moment of Remembrance will take place Monday at 3 p.m. and last one minute.
All Americans, wherever they are, are encouraged to take that moment and reflect with a moment of silence.
Memorial Day began in honor of those who had fallen in the Civil War, but after World War I, the holiday was changed to honor those who had fallen in any war.
Some feel the day's meaning has been forgotten, and the importance has been lost through the act of family gatherings, barbeques and a day off of work.
"I think the emphasis has definitely been lost," said Lt. Jennifer Howells, clinic manager for the Naval Hospital Beaufort Pediatrics Clinic.
That is why the White House Commission has enacted a moment of remembrance for
all of America to take a minute of their time and pay homage.
"I am all for it," said Sgt. Clayton Smith, primary marksmanship instructor. "It is a time to reflect on the wars from the past and is especially important to me this year because my old unit is over there right now."
The re-emphasis on a day that has been celebrated for more than a century is a welcome patriotic change for some service members.
"With what is going on with current events today, I think it would be wonderful," said Howells, who was born on Memorial Day. "After 9-11 and what is going on in Iraq, it would definitely be a good spark for our country."
The urge to remember the past is ingrained through heritage, tradition and pride within most that serve their country, no matter how long they may have served.
"Fallen troops should all be remembered in one way or another," said Pfc. Chris Delancey, fitness specialist at the Combat Fitness Center. "This is a good way for the entire nation to get together and remember all at once."
Remembering the past, not only reminds service members where they have come from, but where they are going.
"It helps the people that have lost someone to know that people really do care," said Cpl. Gerald Hemry, aviation ordinance Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122.
Everyone has their own way of remembering those who have fallen in military service. Some appreciate the sacrifice more than others, which is only a matter of circumstance.
"Different people have different traditions," said Smith. "In my family, we have always had people in the military for each generation, so that made it important to us. My grandfather was a Marine, and he had three brothers who were Marines. Some families have never had anyone who has been in the military."
According to the White House Commission on Remembrance, as people participate in the moment they are helping reclaim Memorial Day for the noble and sacred reason for which it was intended-to honor those who died in service to our Nation.