Once again Memorial Day is upon us. It is one of three days each year in the United States that we honor military service:
Armed Forces Day
Celebrated last Saturday, this day is marked annually on the third Saturday of May. This is the day that we celebrate and express gratitude to those currently serving in the U.S. Military.
Celebrated the last Monday in May. This is the most somber of the holidays. Memorial Day is the day we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home.
Celebrated on November 11. This is the day we honor our military veterans who returned home.
It is important to remember the purpose of each holiday and to respect them. Yes, we want to honor those who served to protect us and protect our rights. But there is a sense of entitlement today that people think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Especially on Memorial Day, this can be very difficult. Memorial Day started in the nineteenth century as Decoration Day, a time when people gathered at the graves of Civil War soldiers to decorate them and remember them. Now, on Memorial Day, we remember all those who were killed in the line of duty.
For many individuals this is just another long weekend—an excuse for barbecues and looking forward to summer. But for the families of those who were killed in the line of duty, this is a very emotional day. It is a time to remember their fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles, or other family member who gave their life for their country. Do not disrespect them by ignoring the dead to celebrate the living.
My maternal grandfather’s uncle, Éloi Morin volunteered to serve in the American army during World War I, even though he was not a citizen. Thirty-two-year-old Éloi served for less than a year before being killed in the Battle of the Argonne. Unmarried, he left his survivor benefits to my grandfather and made a huge difference to my family. My paternal grandfather’s first cousin Albert was lost in action when his ship, USS Chevalier, engaged nine Japanese ships with only two other American ships. Chevalier was hit by a Japanese torpedo that ripped off the forward part of the ship from the bridge to the bow. The USS O’Bannonwas following her and rammed into the aft engine room when she lost control. Albert was one of fifty-six men who died that day. He was nineteen years old.
On this Memorial Day, I honor Private Éloi Morin, and Petty Officer, Second Class, Albert Victor Leclerc for their service and their ultimate sacrifice. As General George S. Patton said, “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”