By Russ Pankonin, The Imperial Republican
While Memorial Day may have passed, it’s important we remember each and every day just why we celebrate Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is not about the three-day weekend that opens the summer season or the Indy 500. Instead, it’s a time to remember.
On Monday, Imperial native and former Marine Brian Hill spoke during the VFW Post’s observance at the cemetery. He shared a story about visiting with an elderly man at a tire store in Denver last week.
He told him he was going to be delivering the Memorial Day address and asked the man what was the most important aspect of Memorial Day. “Remember them all. Just . . . remember them all.”
In the fast-paced world we live in today, it’s too easy to forget about the sacrifices made by members of the Greatest Generation during World War II and the Korean War, not to mention wars since and even those that date all the way back to the Civil War.
Memorial Day is always a special day of remembrance for Rusty Kinder. His brother, Andrew, was killed at Hickam Field on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As the first person from Imperial to die in WWII, Imperial’s VFW Post 4688 is named after him.
My generation and that of my children and my grandchildren will probably never have to endure the sacrifices our parents and grandparents made during WWII.
Because it didn’t happen to us, it’s all too easy for us to not understand what real sacrifice meant. We need to pay reverence to those men and women who have served in our military over the years to make sure we never experience the kind of sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation.
Today, about 700 WWII veterans die every day. Even the youngest who served in WWII are in their mid-80s. We need to share their experiences with future generations before they are all gone.
In addition, we must always instill in our children and grandchildren the reason we observe Memorial Day. It’s the only day dedicated to honoring the ultimate sacrifices made by Americans in all wars.
Memorial Day 2013 marked milestone anniversaries of wars and conflicts fought by our countrymen. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812; 100 years of the Moro war campaigns in the Philippines; 70th anniversary of WWII; 60th of the Korean War; 50th of the Vietnam advisory campaign; 30th of Lebanon and Grenada; 20 years since Somalia; and the 10th of the beginning of the war in Iraq.
John Hamilton, national commander of the VFW, notes “that adds up to a lot of American lives to remember.”
He too urges us to “instill in the youngest Americans a reverence for the losses of war.” Let them know that the young Americans whose lives were cut short so we could pursue our dreams are not just names, they are people.
Each and every day, we need to “remember them all” for paying the price so we can enjoy the freedoms we all too often take for granted.