Memorial Day is typically a day of reflection and traditions. Many reach out to old comrades in arms to reminisce over those lost. Reunions typically consist of raised glasses to toast the memory of the honored dead. However, this year will be vastly different. This year we must dig deeper to find the resolve to face the powerful emotions surrounding our day of remembrance.
The laying of “Flags-In”
Typically the weekend prior to Memorial Day scout troops all over the country place flags at cemeteries, but this year that will not be the case. Many graveyards have barred public displays and gatherings, over fears of COVID-19.
Members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, (The Old Guard) placed over 250,000 flags in Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. This feat took over 1,000 soldiers from the storied and historic unit that can traces its roots back to 1784.
They placed flags in front of every headstone at the locations. Additionally, they placed flags at every columbarium, a room or building used to display funeral urns. Furthermore, they honored every niche wall column with a flag.
The reading of names on Memorial Day
The reading of the names of the fallen is an important task. It reminds us of the cost of battle and that there was a person behind every number tallied. Organizations and news companies across the nation display this list annually.
For example, since 2017, Grunt Style has shut down their social media platforms and their websites on Memorial Day to broadcast live streams of name readings of those fallen during OIF, OEF, up to present day. Some who do not have as much of a personal attachment may see this as an opportunity to promote deals, but we know better. This is a day of respect, and to honor the dead.
The drinking of whiskey & beers
Raising glasses, and toasting those who have passed, is a privilege of those who remain. We live our life to the fullest for those who no longer can. Whether it be over video chat, or in the bars that are beginning to reopen, we always conduct ourselves with quiet dignity. Civilians will want to thank us for our service and we will gently remind them that Memorial Day is for the dead, not for the living.
One day, we will all draw our last breath, but until that day We Will Remember. We will be strong, we will honor those who have gone before us, and those who did not come home.
However, we know these memories can be painful. Please reach out and confide in each other. It can be hard to see some relaxing, oblivious to the sacrifice made by our brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, that is why our service members risk and lay down their lives. This is done so our countrymen may not know the sting that losing a loved one in combat can bring. We proudly bear the weight and remember those sacrifices are the reason every American has the freedom to choose how to observe the day, and this we will defend.
We Will Never Forget.