Memorial Day – Monday, May 30, 2022. David Jelin, Commander, The American Legion Price Post 3

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was a date set aside to remember those who died in combat in the War between the States. On May 28th, 1868, in what is now known as Arlington National Cemetery, some 5,000 people decorated the 20,000 graves of the men from the armies of the North and South.

Much earlier, the earliest settlers to distance themselves from what they left behind, from what they fled in Europe and elsewhere, sought what was to become America, and strived to survive; few returned to the old countries. These peoples had expected this land to be different, challenging, but without tyrannical governments, and with freedom to prosper.

Settlers did not look to recreate the conflicts from the old lands; they sought a better life, opportunities of peace, and keeping what they made or earned. Yes, there were battles and wars with major powers; England, France, Spain, and even Indians, and those armed by those major powers to fight each other and the settlers from each other’s countries.

Later, in 1776, a nation arose from a Declaration of Independence, three percent of those colonials fought for and won independence from a tyrannical king.  Today, far too many don’t stop to recognize these sacrifices of self, family, and future.  Many in this community and across the nation have stopped celebrating Independence Day.  For one reason or another, far too many have forgotten that America is where people fled to.

Because of those willing to sacrifice, we have a home to enjoy our freedoms, freedoms established in 1788 with the Constitution, then the Bill of Rights, and subsequent Amendments allow us to live free lives.  Granted, it is not perfect, but what we have is a far greater treasure of freedoms than anywhere else on the planet; freedoms to associate, speak, disagree, move about, and many more.  The United States of America remains a nation people flee to.

President Abraham Lincoln, at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863, stated in part “We have come to dedicate a…final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Today has been set aside to honor, to remember with gratitude, all those who sacrificed their lives in service to preserve our nation.  They died believing their sacrifices, the ultimate human cost, was to secure the lives of their families and our way of life.

Today, Memorial Day, we gather to remember, we honor all the men and women who died in or from combat, who died in service to our nation.  Their sacrifices are a debt that will not, that cannot ever be repaid nor, should ever be forgotten.  

This Memorial Day, I urge all of you to remember with gratefulness all the fallen sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who have so bravely served our country.  Remember also, and thank, the families of the fallen, Gold Star families, for only they directly suffered the losses.

This is not a “happy” day, not of celebration, nor for sales.  There is nothing “happy” about the loss of lives defending a nation and the lost opportunities of those killed, and their families left behind; for them, every day is Memorial Day.

We remember, we must remember and honor those who stepped up, signed that infamous dotted line and served, many of whom died so we could live as free people, a free nation, a people free of tyranny and oppression.  We honor those brave men and women who fought and died to defend us, putting the greater good of freedom and nation above self. 

Without us to remember and honor them and their service, they’ll fade from memory and history, and we, personally and as a nation, without proper gratitude, will become far less for it.

Today, we have WWII veterans in our midst, as well as veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Cold War, and today’s global war on terrorism, and all the conflicts in between.  Please take a moment to say “thank you” for their service; for they too committed themselves to our freedoms.  To all those who served, I thank you, and welcome you home.

Today, every day, we must remember they stood the line, fought for us, many fell for us.    And now, with one accord, in deepest reverence, I hope we do them honor.  

This is not a funeral, but a ceremony to honor the fallen.  We will fire a three-volley salute in memory and honor of those who died in combat, those counted as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action but presumed dead, those who died while in uniform, and for those who have passed since their service. 

May today – may every day – be filled with peace, thankfulness, and memories of all who died in service to our nation, for our lives to be free.

David Jelin, Veteran, Commander, The American Legion Price Post 3, Commander ©

Read during Memorial Day Ceremonies at Helper Mt View, Price City, Price Cliffview, Wellington, East Carbon & Sunnyside, and Elgin Green River Cemeteries on May 30, 202.

Please contact The American Legion Price Post 3 for permissions at: veterans@americanlegionpost3.org.