My friend, E.B. Misfit, has posted eloquently on the meaning of the day, and she says in part:
"From 1775 through today, men and women have gone to serve this nation in both times of war and peace. Many never lived to see their homes again. They did not ask if those conflicts were wise or not. Duty called and they went.
Many more, of course, did come home. Most hale and hearty, others suffering various injuries to their bodies, their brains and their souls. For these veterans, it is the duty of our nation to take care of them (and hang the expense)."
A small part of our duty is to maintain, as islands of tranquility and everlasting expressions of our gratitude, the final resting places of those who fell and remained on distant shores. One such place is the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.
The cemetery is on the grounds of the former Fort McKinley which was recaptured on 17 February 1945 from Japanese forces by elements of the 11th Airborne Division. One of many to give the last full measure of devotion on that day was 21 year old TEC 4 Edmund J. Peters, Jr., 188th Glider Infantry Regiment. He rests beneath one of those crosses. Ed was my mother's younger brother, hence my uncle.
Each Memorial Day I raise a glass to Uncle Ed's memory and I reflect on my reasons to be grateful. First, of course, for the sacrifices of Ed Peters and all of his buddies and all those that have followed in their boot tracks. They each gave some or all of themselves so that we may continue to enjoy the fruits of freedom.
And then, also for the fact that looking at Ed's picture and recollecting his story makes Memorial Day personal for me.
It's been said death is not final so long as someone remembers. I hope that for every fallen hero we honor on this day at least one person takes on the responsibility of learning all that can be learned about their story and then makes certain that story will live on. Their gift to us is far too valuable to ever allow any of them to be forgotten.