Today, millions of families across America will begin packing their bags and getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend.
I wonder how many people will take the time to actually pay tribute to the true intention of the holiday: to honor those who have given their lives for the cause of American freedom.
The barbecues, swim parties and discount sales at the shopping malls continue unabated, but the holiday’s true significance seems to have faded for some in this nation. It’s sad to see some people finding it too inconvenient or too politically sensitive to paying homage to our nation’s greatest heroes.
The exact historical origins of the Memorial Day holiday differ depending on whom you ask, but the intentions are all the same.
Teacher Moina Bell Michael helped drive the message home for the Allied Forces of World War I. The European fields of Flanders had served as the graveyard for so many thousands of men who bravely fought back against tyranny and terror. Many poems have been written about Flanders, and Moina Michael decided to take things one step further. She rallied the public to follow her lead in wearing the red poppy of Flanders Field as a symbolic gesture of support for the fallen heroes who gave their lives in the fight against evil.
Her words in this poem are so potent and powerful that they ring loud and strong to this day:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
The blood of heroes that colored the red poppies of Flanders lives on today in the hearts of the men and women fighting against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It provides them the courage to do what they know is right, even in the face of stiff political opposition, second-guessing and attempts to undermine their mission by some of their own countrymen.
Today’s heroes endure temperatures well above 100 degrees. They press forward in spite of sand being driven into their mouths, eyes and nostrils by monstrously fierce desert winds.
Unlike those Americans who dedicate just one weekend to paying tribute to our fallen soldiers, the men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom do not have the opportunity to select just one day or one weekend to serve. They face the threat of attack every second of every day that they are serving overseas.
Over 2,400 of America’s finest have already lost their lives in Iraq. While this death toll is only a small fraction of the battles against tyranny in wars past, it is nonetheless a staggering blow to so many of the family members left behind.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of these family members. Called “Gold Star Families,” they know how painful the knock at the door can be. They know the true costs that come with preserving our nation’s freedom and security.
I am asking you to use this Memorial Day weekend to reflect on those who have served and support those who are serving today.
Here’s one way you can pay tribute. This weekend, the nations largest pro-troops grass-roots organization, Move America Forward, will be holding a nationwide Memorial Day Radiothon that will honor those who have given their lives in the fight against terrorism.
The national radio program will feature “Gold Star Families” recounting the reasons their sons and daughters served in the military and why they felt their cause was just, noble and necessary.
These are powerful, gripping accounts that have often moved me to tears. What always impresses me is how strong and resolute these family members are. These “Gold Star Families” are not Cindy Sheehan clones – far from it.
They are planning a trip to Iraq to see the progress being made in that nation; progress the mainstream media seems to deliberately ignore. These family members also wish to convey their love and appreciation for the men and women who are currently serving in Iraq.
These family members support the men and women fighting in Iraq and their mission to defeat the terrorist threat. You must hear their stories. You must hear their love for their country and pride in the efforts their children made as a member of the United States military.
I encourage you to give up one, maybe two hours from the barbecues and picnics to listen in and hear the messages these Gold Star family members want to send to the world. You can log onto www.MoveAmericaForward.com to get more details on stations and times the program will air – and how you can stream it over the Internet.
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