2018-05-27 / Editorial

Keep a promise on Memorial Day

A decade after the Vietnam War, in a time when patriotism had fallen out of fashion, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986. In that speech which was later credited with reviving the practice of honoring Memorial Day and its meaning, Reagan reminded America of the love of country, commitment to comrades and ultimate sacrifice generations of U.S. service men and women have made to defend our freedoms and way of life.

“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember,” Reagan began.

After naming some of the heroes laid to rest at Arlington, Reagan said, “All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins.”

Citing the fallen soldiers of the Vietnam era, Reagan reminded us, “And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we.”

It is fitting that Memorial Day observations around Lapeer County and across the United States are led by veterans of our country’s military service. Who better to keep that promise to always remember and to pay tribute to their fallen brothers and sisters in arms? Who knows better the power of courage to overcome fear in order to protect kin and country? Who understands more deeply the sense of loss of a dead or missing comrade?

But we must not, and will not, let those veterans stand alone in their remembrance and tribute.

Lapeer County has several Memorial Day events planned for tomorrow — they are listed on the front page of this Insight section. We urge every citizen to attend at least one parade, service or memorial — to fulfill that promise of which Reagan spoke.

While those of us who did not serve in the military or have not experienced the loss of a loved one in military service cannot fully feel their pain and loss, we can feel gratitude for those who did. We can show that gratitude by our physical presence at one of the Memorial Day events.

We’ve noticed a trend over the past few years as we’ve attended these Memorial Day events around Lapeer County — more people are coming out every year to show their support for our living veterans and pay their respect to those who gave all. It’s heartening to see and emotional to be around as our local veterans and fellow citizens come together to pay solemn tribute.

Attending such an event takes only a brief time out of our otherwise carefree and fun holiday — a holiday in a country that would not exist if not for the sacrifices of the more than 1.2 million fallen American soldiers who gave their life to defend our freedom.

We owe them something — we must never forget.

Keep the promise. Attend a local Memorial Day event. Then, as our friend, veteran and Lapeer County VA Director Ed Ronders said: “Memorial Day is a day to fire up that grill. Hold your family close and give thanks for all veterans.” Will do, Ed.

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