Today the United States of America celebrates Memorial Day. It was first titled “Decoration Day”, derived from the decorations placed upon graves of fallen Civil War soldiers in the 1800s. This day has become set apart to officially remember those who sacrificed everything on our behalf.
On May 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum, which stated the following:
“As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of National awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”
A ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ is now observed on each Memorial Day.
“This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms…[government officials and citizens should] pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”
It is 3:00 PM, Memorial Day 2008. I am pausing to “remember and reflect”.
Today I remember those who have died for our freedom, but I also remember those who have worn out their lives in service, and still remain. I honor my grandfather, Dallis Joseph Christensen. He remains one of the few remaining heroes of World War II. Sadly, the lives of these great men and women are ending. Soon, we will no longer have their voices to tell their stroies. They will not be here to remind us of that important historic conflict for freedom.
Dallis is a retired Commander of the U.S. Navy. He was a pilot of naval aircraft, and flew important and dangerous missions during WWII. He was decorated for his courage and service, but somehow that does not quite seem to express gratitude enough. He has not only brought honor to his country, but also to his family through his valiant service. Dallis has instilled patriotism, hard work and service deep into the hearts of each of his 5 children, 21 grandchildren and 12+ great-grandchildren. Our hearts are tender knowing that we cannot keep him with us forever. He is now in his 94th year on this earth. I will forever be thankful for the legacy of freedom Grandpa Dallis and his generation has given to all of us. He is a true hero.
Today we will listen to patriotic songs. They make our hearts swell with pride, and our eyes swell with tears. They remind us how much we love our land, our families, and our nation. They also remind us that freedom is never free. Thousands died “Yesterday” so that we may enjoy “Today”. Too often we forget.
Today, I hope we will pause and remember.
Loreena McKennitt – Dante’s prayer
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me