Today is Memorial Day.
When did it become another Veterans Day?
My wife Lisa and I attended the dress rehearsal for the National Memorial Day Concert on Capitol Hill. It was a nice evening and nice rehearsal. The organizers did a good job.
The show focused on service members who died and veterans who survived. One segment featured one Marine’s experiences during the Vietnam War’s Siege of Khe Sanh and his resulting struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a Nat King Cole musical tribute–song by his daughter Natalie Cole–that featured video of soldiers and sailors dancing because World War II was over and they survived. The National Symphony Orchestra played each service’s song and had veterans stand to their respective song. The applause was nice. As an Air Force veteran, I stood for “Wild Blue Yonder” and appreciated the recognition.
Hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise made calls for veterans to seek help for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Other dignitaries made calls to help end homelessness and unemployment for veterans. All good things.
But today isn’t for veterans who survived. It’s for service members who died in the line of duty.
All the calls to help homeless and hurting veterans are good. I’m not diminishing veterans’ needs. There are many who are struggling and need help. I’m a veteran and always appreciate the recognition people give veterans. The point is this is Memorial Day. Let’s honor those who died. Let’s remember they left family members who may still be hurting and in need of our help.
Veterans have Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The Armed Forces have the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day. Each service also has its respective birthday. Those are the appropriate days to honor veterans, service members and each branch of the Armed Forces.
Memorial Day is the only day to honor people who gave their lives in defense of our freedoms. Memorial Day is their day. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. We should give them our undiluted recognition.
What they gave is more than we ever gave and should never be diminished.