Many of us may be familiar with the old adage, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. But, I'm going to add a couple of caveats to that. First of all, old soldiers do die, often in combat and so do young soldiers, and sailors, and marines, and airmen. Service members, young and old, men and women, from every branch of military service, die defending our country and our way of life. They fight in popular and unpopular wars, in countries all over the world. They carry the American flag, and the ideals and values for which it stands, to every corner of the world. They don’t go for glory, or honor, or fame. They go because those are their orders. They sacrifice family, friends, and often their lives, to serve their country. In the New Testament, John 15:13 tells us "There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends". Our fallen comrades have demonstrated that love, and that is what Memorial Day is all about.
My second caveat is to the part of the saying that says that "old soldiers just fade away”. Our fallen comrades didn’t fade away. In most cases, they've simply been forgotten. One reason for this is that the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost by the majority of the American people. To most Americans, Memorial Day is simply one of the federal holidays that bracket the summer season. Memorial Day for them marks the beginning of summer, the opening of the community swimming pool, the start of a family vacation, the first barbecue of the year, or a much-needed three-day weekend. For the shopping malls and department stores, Memorial Day is an excuse for one more spectacular sales event. Others confuse Memorial Day for Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day, and while it is highly appropriate any other day of the year to recognize and honor all our veterans, living and dead, and to recognize their immeasurable contributions to our country, that is not the purpose of Memorial Day. Memorial Day is an annual holiday to honor all Armed Services personnel who have died serving our country. If you know a Veteran, don't thank them for their service because for all too many of them, Memorial Day is a solemn and sad day remembering their Brothers and Sisters who gave their last full measure of devotion.
Many of us still proudly fly our American Flag on Memorial day but few know there is a proper protocol for flying our flag to honor all the service members lost serving our country:
On Memorial Day, flags should be quickly raised to full-staff position and then slowly lowered to half-staff, where they remain from sunrise until noon to honor the dead servicemen and women of this country. At noon, the flags are raised quickly to full-staff in recognition of living military veterans who served the country. The flags remain at full staff until sunset. Whenever the flag is flown at half-staff, other flags (including state flags) should be removed or flown at half-staff as well.
For flags that cannot be lowered, such as those mounted on homes, an acceptable alternative is to attach a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag pole, directly beneath the ornament at the end of the pole. The ribbon or streamer should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag
If our flag is wall-mounted, attach three black bows along the top edge of the flag, one at each corner and one in the center.
I think that it's only right that we remember and honor all the brave men and women who have given their lives so that we can live in a free America. But in the same sense, it is impossible for us to do anything, or say anything, that can add to the honor that they earned. We have a responsibility to remember them, and to give grateful thanks that when our nation called, they answered with their lives.
I watched the flag pass by today.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Soldier saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Have fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil.
How many mothers’ tears.
How many pilots’ planes shot down.
How many died at sea.
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves.
No, freedom isn’t free.
I heard the sound of taps last night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps has meant “Amen,”
When our flag had draped the coffins
Of our brothers and our friends.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.
Authored by Russ Kinion on Facebook