Memorial Day - A Reflection on Honor, Sacrifice and Duty
by Senator Tom Harman
Memorial Day may conjure up images of a nice, relaxing three-day weekend. Maybe you will go biking or boating; have a picnic or simply just take it easy. But be sure you take a moment to remember the brave men and women who have lost their lives fighting for our country.
Having served myself in the United States Army as a lieutenant in the 4th Infantry Division, I cannot help but remember America’s fallen heroes and the tremendous sacrifices made by their families for our freedom. Memorial Day is a day our nation sets aside to honor the courageous acts of these soldiers, sailors, aviators and marines. Often times while still in the prime of their youth, countless numbers of these young Americans were willing to pay the ultimate price to defend freedom – their lives.
Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was first proclaimed by General John Logan in May of 1868. General Logan ordered all men under his command to spend part of the day decorating the graves of fallen soldiers.
On Monday, May 25th, we will pay tribute to those who gave their last great measure of devotion to liberty. Throughout the country Americans will pay their respects to those who lost their lives in service to our country. Let us not forget that the precious freedom we are so fortunate to enjoy here in America was purchased with the lives of those brave men and women who served our country in times of war. An excerpt from the dedication plaque on the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located on the grounds of the State Capitol in Sacramento, sums up the sacrifice of our brave soldiers, "All Gave Some, Some Gave All."
The Memorial is located in a park like setting not far from my Capitol office. This quiet, lush setting is a popular lunchtime destination where people can relax and admire the beauty of the Memorial’s circular design. The bronze sculptures depicting scenes from daily life during the Vietnam War are riveting. Viewing the 5,822 names engraved on twenty-two black granite panels fills me with awe. Each engraved name is a sobering reminder of the dead and missing California Vietnam Veterans.
All around the world Californians continue to risk life and limb to defend liberty. The men and women of our armed forces currently on duty in Afghanistan and Iraq should be in the thoughts and prayers of each of us as we celebrate Memorial Day.