Memorial Day 2006

Published 3:07 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

By By Lee “Lavan” Martin
Memorial Day, May 30, is a sacred day to all war veterans. Atmore area veterans of the American Legion and the Veterans of foreign Wars will gather on Monday, May 29 at 11 a.m. in front of Atmore City Hall to pause and remember their fallen comrades who gave their lives during wartime. By honoring our Nation's war dead, or by remembering all U.S. servicemen and women still missing in action is all wars, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice.
It is a difficult duty we face today, paying tribute to those killed in the cause of freedom. They died-and we live. They are forever lost to us- yet we enjoy a great gift from them- freedom and a way of life unequaled anywhere in the world. They are the men and women patriotic Americans honor today from the "Punch Bowl" in Hawaii to American cemeteries throughout Europe.
Memorial Day is a time to pause and reflect on the many blessings we have as Americans and the remember those who gave their lives, or are still missing in action, by giving us the right to live as "one nation under God with freedom and justice for all."
American's sons and daughters are dying today in Iraq. Regardless of what we believe, we must support our troops now serving in harm's way. They're paying the price; they're making the sacrifice for our liberty. Remember, they're there, and we are here where we're enjoying the fruits of their labor. Thousands have already made the supreme sacrifice. The least we can do on Memorial Day is to honor and remember them. How? You say. Let me cite and E-mail I received recently via the Internet:
A simple 'Thank You'
Last week, while traveling, I noticed a Marine sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together. After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class, and inquired if he was heading home. No, he responded. Heading out I asked? No. I'm escorting a soldier home. Going to pick him up? No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Iraq. I'm taking him home to his family.
The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch in the gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family and felt as if he knew them after many conversations in so few days. I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, "Thank you. Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do.
Upon landing in Chicago, the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the United States Marine Corps join us on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door the allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign,"
Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize that I am proud to be an American.
So here's a public Thank You to our military men and women for what you do so we can live the way we do. Stuart Margel, Washington, D.C.
My fellow citizens of Atmore, on Memorial Day 2006, honor and remember our fallen war dead and give thanks to our American men and women who continue to serve in harm's way so that we may enjoy the good life we have. May God bless them all, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Lee "Lavan" Martin is commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7016 in Atmore.

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