As thoughts turn to the holiday weekend, we at the Sand Paper urge everyone to take time to remember the reason for Memorial Day, the fallen service members of our nation. The article below, provided by The American Legion, says it all so clearly, we’re sharing it with our readers today:
They each have stories to tell. The crosses at Normandy. The markers at Punchbowl. The tombs at Arlington. The fallen heroes who rest in places unknown.
From our founding Revolution to today’s Global War on Terrorism, nearly one million men and women in the Armed Forces have sacrificed their lives while defending America in time of war.
Once such American was Dale M. Hansen, a 19-year-old from Wisner, Nebraska. At five-foot-nine and 141 pounds, Private Hansen was far from the biggest Marine in his Reserve unit.
But he fought like a GIANT.
He landed on Okinawa with his unit on Easter, 1945. At a critical stage of action on May 7th, Private Hansen crawled to an exposed position, where he used a rocket launcher to destroy a strategically located enemy pillbox. After his weapon was destroyed by enemy fire, he seized a rifle and continued a one-man assault and opened fire on six Japanese soldiers, killing four before his rifle jammed.
He fought off the two remaining Japanese soldiers with the butt of his rifle, returned for cover, then advanced again with another weapon and some grenades. Private Hansen proceeded to destroy a strong mortar position and annihilate eight more enemy soldiers.
For his actions of May 7th, his parents would later receive his Medal of Honor. For while Private Hansen survived the heroic actions that earned him the Medal and the enduring respect and gratitude of the American people, he was killed by a Japanese sniper just four days after his amazing display of combat valor.
Private Hansen, like so many other defenders of freedom, is forever young.
Brittany Gordon lived a life of service. As a 24-year-old Army Specialist, Brittany was among a group that was delivering furniture to an intelligence office in eastern Afghanistan on October 13, 2012.
She lost her life when a terrorist detonated a suicide vest.
Like Pvt. Hansen, Specialist Brittany Gordon is forever young.
The numbers of our fallen heroes are not just statistics. They are real people, with real families, who lived in real communities.
We can best honor their sacrifice by remembering their families, who have lost so much. Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early.
We need to be there for them as American citizens. Nobody can replace these fallen heroes – especially in the eyes of their families – but we can offer shoulders to cry on, assistance with educational expenses and assurance that their loved one’s sacrifice will not be forgotten.
As the unofficial beginning of summer, let us never lose focus of what Memorial Day truly means. It is not about beaches, picnics or auto races. It is a day to remember.
Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children remember EVERYDAY.
The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving, and the voice of a loved one heard only as a distant memory in one’s mind are constant reminders that they are gone.
We owe it to the heroes that died and the loved ones left behind to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered and that their service to this nation always be honored.
May God bless them all.
Courtesy of The American Legion