May 25, 2009
Today, Sunday, May 24, 2009, was bright and sunny, clear and warm. It was a beautiful day in Leavenworth National Cemetery. It is one of the most restful, serene places I know. The stark white headstones, in perfect formation, spread across the summer green grounds with pride and honor. By each of the almost 34,000 graves, there stood an American flag fluttering in the breeze.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence."
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country. To listen to a sound file of Taps performed by SGM Woody English, U.S.Army Band, playing on a B flat Bach Stradivarius Field Trumpet, go to http://www.tapsbugler.com/WoodyEnglishTaps.mp3
Lt.Colonel Arch W. Tucker, USAF (Retired) did not die in a battle while protecting and defending his country. His final battle was with cancer, but if they would have taken Arch back into the Air Force on September 12, 2001, he would gone in a heartbeat. Having gone to Leavenworth National Cemetery with Arch several times before he died, I know the respect and reverence Arch felt for those that did die in the line of fire. His pride and adoration, his love and respect for each and every military soldier, sailor and airman was overwhelming.
So, today, I visited Arch’s grave and placed flowers there to honor him, but I also took the time to read many of the headstones on the long walk from the road to Arch’s grave. I have no idea how many of the over 33,000 buried there, died while defending America, but the majority of those I read did die in battle. Arch served in three wars, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He was a United States Air Force Fighter Pilot who put his life on the line for 33 years so we Americans can have the freedom we take for granted. Thank God there are more Americans today, young men and women, who believe as Arch did. May God protect them.