May 30, 2011, - 11:19 pm

Memorial Day: Remember America’s Fallen Heroes Every Single Day

By Debbie Schlussel

Since it’s one of the most important American holidays (at least to me), I’m embarrassed to put up my Memorial Day post so late in the day, but it couldn’t be helped as I’ve been on the phone all day with emergency techs trying to eradicate a virus on my desktop computer, which kept me from going online.  I finally gave up and write this from a cafe (on the world’s slowest laptop).  But I believe we should remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country, every single day–not just on one day a year. 

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U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Moore @ the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Photo by H. Darr Beiser/USA Today)

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Natl Guard Staff Sgt. Duane Dreasky is Buried in Arlington Natl. Cemetery

And I couldn’t let this day end without sharing with you a fantastic USA Today column by my friend, Major James Key, Chaplain for the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.  James grew up in South Central L.A., was Arlington National Cemetery Chaplain, and also served as a soldier in the Iraq war.  I joke with him that we are related somehow, since my last name means Key in Yiddish (the German-Hebrew hybrid).  He is a fantastic writer and orator, and he is spot on here:

When I was much younger, Memorial Day to me meant a day off from school, a cookout in the park and the start of the summer vacation season.

Today, maturity and my military service have made me realize that the real heroes of our nation don’t earn million-dollar salaries, drive expensive cars or wear fancy clothes. They wear military uniforms, earn meager salaries and serve with little notoriety.The recent successful military operation by the Navy SEALs in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden is a reflection of the commitment and dedication that our servicemen and women have demonstrated since the birth of our nation.

And while every brave member of this elite military unit made it home safe and sound, others have not. During the past 10 years, more than 6,000 troops have become casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Today, there are permanent empty chairs at the dinner tables of many families across America, which should remind us all that the price of freedom is still very high.

Every time I preside over a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, I’m reminded of this harsh reality. The history of America is replete with stories of young people leaving home to join the military and fight in wars. And while the families of these troops are very proud, no doubt somewhere deep in their soul they must wonder whether their loved ones will make it home safe.

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Army Major James Key

As you celebrate this holiday, remember that these service men and women are everyday people who have dared to answer the clarion call to serve. They come from hard-working families and hail from big cities, small country towns and humble suburban neighborhoods. They represent different ethnicities, religions and creeds. They are the less than 1% of the population who serve in the U.S. military.

This Monday, let us not allow the commercialization of this holiday to upstage the significance of Memorial Day, which began in 1868 when members of the Grand Army of the Republic heeded the request of their commander, Gen. John A. Logan, to decorate the graves of their fallen compatriots. It has since become the day on which the U.S. honors the dead of all its wars.

So throughout this weekend, and especially on Monday, remember the empty chairs. These brave souls have given their lives so we can continue to enjoy the liberty that our forefathers envisioned for us all.

As Memorial Day enters its final moments, Major Key’s advice is good to remember every single day. It’s trite but true: they died so we could be free.  Thank you to all of the men who gave their lives so we could continue on with our own lives in freedom, and all of those who survived but gave their limbs or were severely wounded, or endured unspeakable horrors, so we could go about our business in freedom.  And thanks to those who served and came back in one piece.  Let’s remember all of them 365 days of the year.  G-d bless them all.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Graves of Some of Our Fallen Heroes at Arlington National Cemetery

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Graves of American Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives in WWII @ Normandy

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16 Responses

Anyone who has worn or is still wearing a uniform, I salute you all, because I wore one myself. (And got the scars to prove it.)

The Reverend Jacques on May 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks for doing so.

    Occam's Tool on May 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Thanks, Debbie for yet another eloquent and moving reminder about what this holiday was meant to stand for. G-d knows America needs some.

DS_ROCKS! on May 31, 2011 at 1:49 am

Rev. Jacque – Memorial Day is to commemorate the fallen (died in service) soldiers. Saluting men and women in uniform past and present is fine, but that has its own holiday which is called “Veteran’s Day”, and is celebrated in November.

DS_ROCKS! on May 31, 2011 at 3:04 am

I think the sacrifices of ALL soldiers, the fallen and the living, deserve respect on Memorial Day. That’s why we are free.

Veterans Day is a tribute to those who have served honorably in the Armed Forces of this nation, past and present.

We should always remember them. Freedom comes with a price and like the SEALS demonstrated in Pakistan earlier this month, keeping our country safe is the most dangerous job on earth. Let’s all give our servicemen and women our thanks and keep them in our prayers.

G-d Bless America!

NormanF on May 31, 2011 at 6:12 am

On an off note, I was sorry to hear about Debbie’s virus problem. On my Windows desktop, I run Rollback RX Pro. In the unlikely event I am ever infected, I just go back to an earlier point in time before the problem occurred and I am back in business.

However, I really like Linux. Its fast and stable and I never ever have to worry about virus or malware. When I came to Mac OSX, the only security software I ever installed was a third party firewall that I turned on. I have never run anti-virus on it. On Unix-like systems none is necessary. Life is short and I want a computer that works with a reliable operating system. And I get to choose a desktop environment right for my needs.

NormanF on May 31, 2011 at 6:30 am

You’re missing the point, Normie: Christians, for example, think about the resurrection of Jesus every day, but don’t celebrate it or commemorate it on Easter, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Washington’s birthday, etc. That would be stupid and also eradicate the meaning of the other worthwhile holidays to do so.

Like I said, you can give thanks to vets all day long, every day, but to lump them in on Memorial day is disrespectful to the vets who are dead from their service. I’m a veteran and I’m telling you, the ones who died in battle gave a lot more than I did. It doesn’t negate or make my contribution less important, it was just more. Idiots.

DS_ROCKS! on May 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for protecting me.

    Occam's Tool on May 31, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Thank you, Debbie. I remember all, especially my Texas Aggie classmates who have fallen in combat. Bless them all.

Joel-texag57 on May 31, 2011 at 10:13 am

Debbie,

Thank you SO much for posting this! As you well know from the many times I told you, my father was rescued from a ditch, near certain death, by an American soldier while on the Death Marches in April 1945.

I become very upset when our brave military is slandered (like they were coming home from Viet Nam, and as they continue to be by the Left) because I WOULDNT BE HERE TYPING THIS POST, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY MY SONS WOULDN’T BE WALKING THE FACE OF THE EARTH AS FREE YOUNG JEWISH MEN.

Again, thanks SO much for posting this!

Phil Raimi

Phil Raimi on May 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Phil, you are a mensch. And your cuz does great movies.

    Occam's Tool on May 31, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Phil, exactly.

    I disagree with the other poster there’s a difference – maybe a technical one but ALL of our military personnel deserve our esteem.

    For American Jews, who are in the forefront of being for radical Islam and cutting our military down to size, that question should matter a great deal.

    What’s really sad is so many Americans take our freedoms for granted. I never have and never will and I’m acutely aware of that sacrifices that the men and women in uniform have made to ensure I am alive and free to express my opinion and do I what I want.

    Next to G-d, I show them my appreciation!

    NormanF on May 31, 2011 at 11:11 pm

We are not Americans. Once upon a time we lived on the coast of Wales. Along a path on a bleak mountainside above our home was a stone wall upon which was a plaque commemorating a planeload of American servicemen who died on that spot when their aircraft crashed there in bad visibility in World War 2. The spot is off the beaten track and so desolate that few pass that way today. On the wall above the plaque someone, no idea who, placed buttons and scraps of metal they must have found lying around. Once, someone, no idea who, put some plastic flowers on the wall, but they soon blew away. We used to retrieve them and put them back and tidy up any fallen scraps of metal. The last time we passed this lonely spot where these Americans died defending Europe was at the time of Abu Ghraib when the whole of Europe was bashing America and the American armed forces with such glee. We were very, very ashamed for Europe then, and still are.

Preposteroso on May 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Thank you for a beautiful and gracious post, Preposterosos. There are still European Gentlemen, like Geert Wilders and yourself. Their numbers dwindle, but still they survive.

    Occam's Tool on May 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm

From the album “Never Forget”
http://www.4shared.com/audio/qPWgD8y-/Freedom.html

JRay on May 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Sorry about the virus DS, I just moved away freom a guy who would fix my laptop for thirty bucks a pop, he was a Godsend. I run Kaspersky now and so far so good.
I served under the Reagon era and although he was no Gen. Patton he didn’t file charges against soldiers for protecting themselves or their unit.

Koeteus on May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

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