Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day: One Holiday, Two Countries ~ By Paul Rieckhoff

Be sure to read the very last paragraph on this page, please! I added the bold emphasis. I want you to remember this about the Commander-in-Chief in the next two elections. Veterans and current members of the United States Military need to remember this and understand the significance of the President not paying due respect to those that made the ultimate sacrifice. It is so sad to see the way he seems to go out his way to ignore you.

And while I'm here, there is a column I posted earlier today by Barbara Simpson, "We Will Remember," which I hope you will read. It is directly related to this column. That's right, Veterans (I'm one, too), we will remember! Just sayin'...

We can honor the fallen by supporting the living. I hope this Memorial Day marks the start of unparalleled support for those returning from war. Veterans don’t need more empty political talk, they need real support and real action. Let’s make this the year we recommit ourselves to our country’s heroes, and to making a difference in their lives. And to never forgetting their sacrifice. Ever.

Posted by Paul Rieckhoff

May 28, 2010

For most Americans, Memorial Day weekend marks the triumphant return of summer: a trip to the beach and a day off of work – barbecues, beers and bargains. Yet, as most Americans head to the beach or the mall, many veterans and military families will travel to a cemetery. For veterans, there is no day of the year when the civilian-military divide feels greater.

On Memorial Day, it feels like we are citizens of two different countries. This holiday should be a solemn day of remembrance for the more than one million American servicemembers of all generations who have given their lives in defense of our country, including the 5,454 men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a humbling occasion to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. But unfortunately, the significance of the day is often lost under the coolers and beach blankets in the trunk of the car.

Instead of driving to the beach, we’re heading to our nation’s capital, where IAVA members and their families will take part in a range of remembrance events. In Washington, we’ll join Vice President Biden and other veterans’ groups in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. We will visit Section 60, where the OIF/OEF veterans are buried—including CSM Eric Cooke and SPC Robert Wise, two men I served with in Iraq – two men that my soldiers and I will never forget. We will stand together on Arlington’s hallowed ground to honor our fallen.

Arlington Cemetery is a place of tremendous symbolism. It is a place for deep reflection and essential learning. On Monday, Arlington is where the eyes of our nation will be focused. But on this immensely important day, President Obama and his family will not be there to stand with us. And that is unfortunate. As our Commander in Chief, it is the President’s duty to deliver our most important message in the most powerful way-and to always lead by example. Just like all of our troops do.


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