A Veteran’s Thoughts on Memorial Day

A Veteran’s Thoughts on Memorial Day

By: Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of TheAdvertiser.

Memorial Day was originally established to honor those who died on both sides in the Civil War, and it was observed by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. Sometimes called Decoration Day, its date was initially not fixed on the calendar – it does not commemorate any specific event – but eventually settled on May 30th, and then on the last Monday in May. This year, it falls on May 27. All national cemeteries will sprout miniature flags across their entire expanse, this coming weekend.

Memorial Day weekend now serves as the unofficial start of summer. In Edgefield County, the peach stands generally open on Memorial Day weekend and stay open until Labor Day. Neighborhood swimming pools open across the country, and families head to the beach. There are Memorial Day sales at many stores, and the occasion is festively celebrated with red, white, and blue bunting to draw in more customers. There is nothing wrong with sales and festivities welcoming summer, but that is not why we observe Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is about honoring those who serve, and who have served, in our military forces. It is not just to honor those who have fallen on the battlefield, but to honor those who served and, perhaps, lived long lives afterward. Memorial Day also honors those who continue to serve in the military as well as those who have served and have recently returned home.

What is the best way to honor them? It is not enough merely to say, “Thank you for your service.” What should we do, really, to honor and value those who served, those who were ready to give to their nation that last full measure of devotion – and now have returned home? I ran across this short poem in an anonymous blog written for Memorial Day, 2013. Its title is “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” And these are some words really to think about, this and every Memorial Day.

Coming home from war,

vets find more

stress awaits.

The suicide rates

Are high.


Homelessness (please find a job)

Unemployment (please get some help)

Mental Illness (please apply for assistance).

Long waits for benefits,

Courtesy of the government.


But hey, here’s a free coffee.

Thanks for defending democracy!