This Memorial Day will be a very different one.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. has been cancelled.
Yet, others across the country are proceeding. They're thinking outisde the box, honoring our fallen heroes while also observing social distancing.
Some will have vehicle-only parades, a patriotic convoy, or veterans socially distanced at a local veterans memorial, while playing "Taps."
Portland, Maine will feature just one veteran in its Memorial Day Parade. He will be escorted by two police cruisers along his route to place a flag at a local monument.
Yes, Memorial Day is different this year. And unfortunately, the threats to our national security and freedom still remain, and in some cases have increased. Accordingly, I believe this Memorial Day we should appreciate our freedoms more than ever and the reason we have these freedoms.
As President Ronald Reagan so vividly and accurately reminded us, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."
To many, this Memorial Day will mean you get Monday off, eat BBQ, maybe go to a parade, and, during past Memorial Day weekends, watch the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 the day before.
It’s a time for families to get together and have a good time.
Memoral Day also signals that summer is finally here.
The real meaning of Memorial Day, though, is to remember and honor the men and women who have died while serving as a member of our nation’s armed forces. Its origin goes back to Civil War times when it was known as Decoration Day and Americans would honor our fallen heroes by placing flowers on their graves.
Since America’s beginning, some 1.3 million of our fellow countrymen have given their lives so that we might be free.
These soldiers, sailors, and airmen made the ultimate sacrifice in the American Revolutionary War, Barbary War, War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Beirut deployment, Persian Gulf War and the war on terror (including Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn).
Brave Americans have given their lives on both American and foreign soil.
They include some 8,000 on the battlefield at Gettysburg, over 26,000 at the deadliest battle in U.S. history — the Battle of the Argonne Forrest during World War I, and 19,000 at the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest battle of World War II.
Additionally, over 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.
God has blessed America by giving us men and women who put America above self, willing to give their lives for their country.
God blessed us even more by giving us the right military leaders and commanders in chief during our darkest hours. Men like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman.
These were men who made tough decisions no doubt saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of America’s finest.
But where do we find such men and women?
We find them where we’ve always found them — at places like Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Normandy. We find them in the very fabric of what it means to be an American. We find them in the "citizen-soldiers" comprising our first militia.
We also find them today as young Americans volunteering to keep America safe and free.
President Reagan was right when he spoke about freedom never being more than one generation away from extinction.
Our nation's 40th president went on to say, "We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Yes, education is a national security issue. This Memorial Day, teach your kids what Memorial Day is really all about. Teach them what it really means to be an American and of the sacrifices made by their countrymen so that they can live in a free America today.
Fly the flag, go to a Memorial Day event and visit a local veteran’s cemetery. And thank God for giving us men and women such as these.
This is the way to honor their memory and remember why we are free this Memorial Day.
Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.” He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security. Read Van Hipp's Reports - More Here.
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