Happy Memorial Day!

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We’ve had a beautiful weekend in Columbus, with sunny, clear weather and a traditional cookout yesterday.  With the arrival of Memorial Day, though, it’s time to take a step back and think for a while about the reason for this three-day weekend, and the men and women whose sacrifices in the service of their country helped to safeguard the many freedoms that we enjoy.

When I was a kid, Grandma and Grandpa Neal took UJ and me on a trip to Washington, D.C.  We visited Arlington National Cemetery, with its long, quiet rows of white crosses, and the Iwo Jima Memorial and its depiction of the stirring photograph of a flag-raising effort on Mount Suribachi during one of the bloodiest battles in World War II.  Those visits made a tremendous impression on me, and on days like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day I turn back to those awed, hushed memories and reflect on how many have served, and how well.

The inscription at the base of the Iwo Jima Memorial reads:  “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”  It’s a fitting point of reference on this Memorial Day.

A grateful thank you to those who served, and those who serve still.  Happy Memorial Day!

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Thoughts From A Grateful American On Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day on which every American should be grateful for the sacrifices of members of our military, both past and present.  We enjoy our current freedoms only because, over the history of our Republic, members of the armed forces have been willing to fight and die for the United States of America and its citizens.

One of the finest places to reflect upon the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen is Arlington National Cemetery, that peaceful resting place on a hill within view of Washington, D.C.  The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a particularly stirring reminder of those sacrifices.  Silent, somber, and simple, the ceremony of the changing of the guard does great honor to the remains of the unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War that are entombed in the white marble vault.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been continuously guarded since 1937 by soldiers who call themselves Sentinels.  The changing of the guard ceremony is about ten minutes long and is full of symbolism, where every step and second are scripted and have special meaning.  Some of the frequently asked questions about the ceremony are answered here.  The inscription on the tomb also is moving:  “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.”

Happy Memorial Day to all, and heartfelt thanks to all veterans and active members of our armed forces.