Remembering not to forget those who fell
When you wake up today, without the worry of creeping through bumper-to-bumper traffic, putting in another eight hours of work or passing that final exam, and when you decide to head out to that fabulous barbecue on the beach, Ala Moana Shopping Center to make a dent in your credit card or aunty's house for a mouth-watering potluck, don't forget why you have this three-day weekend.
Don't forget the millions of soldiers who fought in the Civil War and are now buried under American soil at Arlington National Cemetery.
Don't forget the thousands of sailors who perished 67 years ago in the attack on Pearl Harbor and the ones who still remain in our oceans.
Don't forget the airmen who lost their lives during World War II while trying to drive off axis powers during the invasion of Normandy.
Don't forget the Marines who bravely fought against enemy forces in Vietnam and did not return.
Don't forget our National Guard members and reservists who, as civilian soldiers, returned to the United States from the so-called war against terrorism in flag-draped coffins.
Remember all of them, even if you didn't know them. Remember all of them, even if you disagree with the ideas or stimulus behind each war. Reflect on the sacrifice that these women and men made to fulfill their duties to the U.S. armed forces and the American citizens. Remember the outcome of their commitment ... our freedom to choose.
Today is Memorial Day, a day originally proclaimed to be observed on May 30 by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, given after the end of the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers killed during battle.
In the order, Logan stated, "Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor."
Following World War I, the day formally known as Decoration's Day was changed to honor not only those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War, but to include all those who died in military service. Later, in 1971, Memorial Day was moved to be observed every last Monday of May to give Americans a three-day weekend and holiday.
The significance of Memorial Day can be lost in the hustle and bustle of our current times, and I believe will be diminished in the minds of the next generation of Americans if we do not support traditional observances. The National Holiday Act of 1971 has significantly contributed to the public's indifference to the meaning of the day and the nonchalant observance of it. We are bombarded by newspaper ads and television spots for that "huge Memorial Day sale" or overcome by the euphoria of initiating summertime with a three-day weekend. Sadly, many of us are guilty of ignoring the importance of our history, our military personnel and the significance of this day.
Here are a few suggestions on how you and your family can observe Memorial Day:
» visit veteran cemeteries or any cemetery to adorn the tombstones,
» fly the American flag at half-staff until noon,
» leave a minute open to participate in the "National Moment of Remembrance" at 3 p.m. and play "Taps" or take a moment of silence to remember those who have passed,
» make a pledge to assist the widows, widowers and orphans of the war dead,
» make a pledge to volunteer to assist disabled veterans,
» make a pledge to support any efforts to build or expand community centers,
» send an appreciation card to a veteran who has fought in war and lives to tell about it,
» think about and thank those who are still with us, in the Middle East, defending our country and fulfilling their duties.
Whatever way you choose to honor the service provided by the men and women in our armed forces today, I thank you for remembering the commitment of our fallen heroes, and I thank you for the respect you give them. You will ensure that their dedication to duty will never be forgotten.
Rep. Cindy Evans is chairwoman of the state House Public Safety and Military Affairs.