By Mary Wallen, Brothers of Mercy Director of Programming & Community Relations
Throughout the month of May, we think about late spring and the warmer months to come. We also think about Memorial Day – a day marked to honor and remember the many men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country.
As a youngster, I remember the patriotic parade that passed by our house on Memorial Day. In our yard: an American flag flying high on the pole and a beautiful bed of red tulips surrounding it. I would stand in awe, watching the men and women of all ages march by in their uniforms, representing all branches of the armed forces. I’d get goose bumps, realizing that many of them marching were remembering fallen comrades. I couldn’t help but think what each of them were willing to do for our country, and the resulting freedoms we have.
Once the parade ended, everyone would assemble in the cemetery for a ceremony which included the 21 gun salute and the playing of “Taps”. This would often evoke in me a sense of mourning, for the loss of many I never actually knew. Standing there among the many headstones, some dating back to the Civil War times, the sound of rifles and cannons provided just a glimpse of what soldiers in battle hear, and yet still stand bravely to fight.
I know now that it was my father who instilled patriotism in me – my father, who had such pride for our country, and his time spent in the Army. His own example is what allowed me to see and really appreciate what Memorial Day was all about.
I still stand in awe when I see our Military men and woman march in parades. “Taps” still instills a sadness for the many lost in battle. When our national anthem is played, I stand a little taller with pride. I don’t know if all schools still have students say the pledge of allegiance to the flag every morning, but I think they should.
The month of May is unique in that it also has 5 other nationally recognized days to honor those who serve:
-May 1st: Loyalty Day – a day to reflect and be proud of our American freedoms
-May 5th-11th: Public Service Recognition Week – to honor those who serve us as state, federal, county and local government workers.
-May 8th: Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day – On this day in 1945 Nazi Germany surrendered to the allies and marked the end of World War II in Europe.
-May 10th: Military Spouse Appreciation Day – This day is set aside to show honor and gratitude to military spouses and families to recognize the sacrifices and the important role they have to their loved ones that serve.
-May 18th: Armed Forces Day – to honor all military branches, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy and give thanks for their service.
May is filled with opportunity to make a point to say thank you to all past and present military and their families. So to them I say, “Without you, we would not live in a country that offers the freedoms and opportunities which we all benefit from. I thank you for your bravery and honor you all”.