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Memorial Day--
The Fallen Forgotten
by Maricia Mlynek
     

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Sadly, I believe the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. At one time, it was a day set aside for the nation to gather together, to remember, to reflect and to honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

The graves of fallen soldiers that were once draped with flowers are now neglected. The flags that once followed the proper etiquette of Memorial Day (flown at half staff until noon, then raised to full staff) are now ignored. Cities that held parades and assembled to honor their lost sons and daughters no longer weep or mourn.

It’s been decades since the meaning of Memorial Day was practiced by most Americans. Unfortunately, it has become merely a three day weekend. It is an opportunity to go camping, four-wheeling, or to have family reunions. The day that was set aside to remember is easily forgotten.

There are a few notable exceptions. I am aware of 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry who place small American flags at each of the 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. These men have not forgotten. They patrol 24-hours a day during the entire weekend just to ensure that each flag remains standing. Thank you soldiers for remembering. If only more would see your example and follow your lead.

In 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed, which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’.”

Thus, the sacred spirit of Memorial Day has turned into a minute of remembrance. Yes, it is a step in the right direction, but it also speaks of the apathy and short attention spans of our citizens. Could it be that a nonchalant observance of Memorial Day is better than not observing it at all?

This Memorial Day, I challenge you to give more than a minute of your day to remember. I ask that you stop and honor the fallen for more than mere moments. Those who you are sacrificing 60 seconds to mourn have sacrificed everything for you. I believe they deserve all of America’s attention, all of our respect, and all of our thanks.

I have sat by the graveside of warriors that died on the battlefield. I have seen the sadness in the eyes of the young widow who lost her beloved in a foreign land. I have heard the playing of “Taps” as the young infantryman was laid to rest beside his brothers. The following letter is one I wrote to my family while Andy served in Iraq. Though personal, I share it because it changed me.

 To My Dearest Family,

 As promised, I am keeping you all updated on the news from Andy and the Charlie Co. in Iraq. As far as the news here:       

A fellow wolfhound came home today with wounds that will never heal and another came home to be buried. I went to the memorial service for Cpl. Fraise. He was killed fighting a war that many believe is over or should be. He was a young man with a young wife and a new baby of only six months.

I was truly stunned by the ugly face of war seen in the death of a daddy and husband. The service broke my heart as they read letters from him to his baby girl and lovely wife. Tears fell as he spoke of Christ in them, and I am certain that he wasn’t only a soldier of the U.S. Army, but a soldier of the Lord. It seems so unfair that freedom must cost so much, and that the price is being paid daily by soldiers like Cpl. Fraise.

Don’t let your eyes close tonight before you thank God for the freedom you have and those willing to pay the price for you. And, most importantly, thank Him who died too for your freedom that you might spend eternity in His mansions.       

War is cruel and death is not choosy, but I know that because of Jesus I will someday get to shake Cpl. Fraise’s hand and thank him for his service to our country and to me.

I hope this letter finds you all well. Please pray for all of our service men and women in all the branches of the military and pray for their families, as the sacrifices that are made daily are enormous and sometimes unthinkable. Pray too for the family of Cpl. Fraise. They are heavy on my heart as they have seen the reality of war this week. I never thought that I would be sitting in a church full of strangers crying over a man I never met and yet feeling as if all those around me were my family in an unexplainable way. I am thankful to be Andy’s wife, and I would be proud of him no matter what occupation he had chosen, but, he’s a soldier, he’s a wolfhound, he’s infantry, and he will lead the way. I love you all and miss you much.

                    Yours lovingly,

                                Maricia

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