***image1***When I was a young boy growing up in Philadelphia, Memorial Day meant hanging the American flag early in the morning followed by a drive with all nine children to Ocean City, New Jersey, for the day.
For the children, it was day of family and fun. Through the eyes of my World War II Navy Veteran father, it was a day of remembrance. In the early years, I never understood why we had to be back by sunset to take down the American flag. With age and my father’s good example, we all learned the importance and significance of Memorial Day.
Today Memorial Day means even more. Being stationed in Europe, we are surrounded by the heroic spirit of the American servicemember.
To many, the cost of freedom becomes even more tangible when visiting American National Monuments, battlefields, museums and other overseas memorials.
The list of important landmarks is a long one. Many are just a few hours away from the KMC: Verdun, where the Allied Expeditionary Force ended World War I; the Allied landings on Normandy; the ensuing battlefields throughout France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Lux-embourg in World War II; and, numerous battle sites like Remagen and the Battle of the Bulge.
Where else can you better remember our Guardians of Freedom than on the battlefields they once fought?
In many ways the American Soldier of today is no different, leaving behind loved ones to protect our way of life. As thousands of military members move through our community, on their way to hostile environments, we are again reminded of the price of freedom. The picture becomes even clearer when walking through the wards at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
To me, Memorial Day means thanking and remembering. I have clearly joined the ranks of those whose duty is to serve their country. I am proud of this. I am also proud and obligated to remember those past who have given their service and sometimes their lives for America.
Equally important, I recognize and honor my fellow servicemembers for their sacrifices and commitment. Thank you.