Now that Memorial Day is a memory, with the flags and buntings stored away until the Fourth of July rolls around, most people are back to focusing on their own lives and are content to leave the honoring of service men and women until Veterans Day.
Right? But it shouldn’t be.
As the Vietnam War showed us, it’s never too late to say thanks for the service provided by so many young men and women who received the opposite of a welcome home when they returned stateside.
And we have plenty of military serving in war zones right now, people we need to keep in our thoughts and wishes for a safe return home.
Last week, the Derry Rotary and Derry Village Rotary clubs joined together for their annual Veterans’ Barbecue. Each year the Rotarians host a big meal, complete with gifts and plenty of thanks. In a lot of ways, the thanks rank at the top.
James Hall, drafted in 1968, attended the banquet and said his Vietnam experience was “trying to stay alive…hoping everything came out okay.” That could be said of military fighting all wars.
South School in Londonderry held a Memorial Day ceremony that brought military parents into their children’s classrooms, and reminded everyone that in addition to the sacrifice made by a service man or woman, the family makes sacrifices as well when a parent is called to overseas duty. The students with parents in the military shared their thoughts, and gave thanks for their military parents spending time with them, and for telling them why they have to leave and how long they will be away.
And Pinkerton Academy brought the message of Memorial Day down to the personal level with a presentation about Paul Demeo, a Pinkerton Class of 2007 graduate who died while serving as an Army Ranger.
We all know people who have served, whether during the intense patriotism of World War II, the tumultuous years of Vietnam, or the many wars that followed and continue to this day.
While Memorial Day has passed, remembering those who serve and sacrifice is relevant every day of the year. Today there are men and women – often very young – serving overseas in dangerous conditions, and there are parents and spouses and children at home who are clinging to any hope they can for their loved one’s safe return. Our thoughts should go with all of them, along with our thanks for their sacrifices, every day of the year.