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The Day After

What did you do to commemorate Memorial Day? One Gold Star Mother thinks we’re failing our children by not teaching them the true meaning of Memorial Day, I say we have 364 more days to make sure we don’t. Her email explains why she feels the way she does.


The commercials on TV are calling us to purchase, cars, furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics or a myriad of other things to “Celebrate Memorial Day” with their huge blowout sales! Our Parks and Recreation programs are declaring summer has arrived by opening our pools and encouraging us to come join in the fun and laughter this Memorial Day weekend.  It saddens me and breaks my heart to see that most of America has taken advantage of this 3 day weekend as a reason to party, shop and celebrate for self-fulfillment.   As a country we have lost our focus and the reason why we take time to stop and respectfully, solemnly and reverently remember those who gave up their last breath and hope of a future, so that we could enjoy each and every day. We have failed our children by not educating them as to the real meaning of Memorial Day.

As I child I remember getting together with family for picnics or bar-b-ques.  We looked forward to camping trips or trips to the lake.  There were a few trips I remember to the cemetery but it was to place flowers on deceased relative’s graves who had never served in the military. I thought Memorial Day was to remember loved ones who had died. I wasn’t taught and therefore I missed the opportunity to teach my children that Memorial Day is to remember those who paid the ultimate price. Freedom comes with a price, freedom’s not free .

It really was my son Marc Alan Lee who taught me about Memorial Day . The way he lived his life and the value he placed on others’ lives, caused him to sacrifice his life defending his teammates and our freedoms. Marc was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq 8-2-06. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

The orders from Gen. John A. Logan declare “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. “

General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Observance of Memorial day and then 5,000 patriots decorated the graves of 20,000 soldiers buried in the cemetery. I am so proud of the boy scouts who every year place flags on my son’s grave and every headstone at Fort Rosecrans. I know that many others throughout the nation will be doing the same at National Cemeteries all over our country, thank you!

Waterloo, NY was declared by President Johnson as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. He recognized that this was a city who understood the real meaning of Memorial Day. They knew that Memorial Day was to honor America’s mighty warriors who sacrificed their lives in combat defending our freedoms. Businesses closed, community wide events were planned to honor our brave warriors who were killed in action and residents gathered and decorated the graves of our heroes.  How sad that there are businesses in America who take advantage of this holiday and choose to increase their profits instead of sacrificing a little by closing to remember the sacrifice of our fallen war heroes.

I speak for all of the Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in combat, that every day for us is Memorial Day. With pride and pain we remember them; we remember their smile, their voice, their smell, their touch, their laughter, their character, their dedication and their sacrifice. As a nation we ask that on Memorial Day, one day out of the year that as a Nation we corporately come together to honor our fallen heroes who died in combat.  That’s not asking too much for the blessings and freedoms that you enjoy every day.

I’ve read many articles about Memorial Day and heard quotes from speeches from well-meaning people, even from our leaders in the military, who seem to not completely understand that Memorial Day is the Day we remember those heroes, who while serving in the military, died in combat. We have Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day to remember our Vets.  Personally not a day goes by that I don’t remember our Vets, not matter when they served, or the branch of service they were in. I’ve dedicated my life to honoring, thanking and supporting our military and especially the families of the fallen, but on May 30th, Memorial Day join with me as we “Remember” not “Celebrate” those who gave their all for you and I.

Join with me as I lead the charge to reclaim Memorial Day. Attend Parades and community events to remember our fallen heroes. Take a carload of friends and family to a National Cemetery and decorate the graves and remember the sacrifice of a hero and their family. Thank the family members of those you know who lost a loved one in combat. Take a Gold Star family to lunch, coffee, dinner and ask them about their hero. Do something to let them know you have not forgotten the sacrifice and understand the high price that has been paid for our freedoms. Read a story of a fallen hero, watch a memorial video,  then pass it on to those whose lives you have influence on. If you’re a business close on May 30th to honor and remember our fallen or donate the proceeds from the day to a charity who tells the stories of our fallen or who takes care of the families of the fallen. Our fallen heroes gave their very last breath defending you and they have earned the respect due them on Memorial Day.

Remembering their Sacrifice!
Debbie Lee

Gold Star Mother of
Marc Alan Lee

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