21 Gun Salute

The Memorial Day ceremony in Wamego impresses upon us the reason we gather at ceremonies like this throughout the U.S. to remember how very much we owe those who gave their lives for the freedoms that we take for granted today. I only wish the crowds were larger and that more people understood the significance of this day and the importance of gathering together with our children in our communities to commemorate this solemn occasion.

The day was made even more poignant for me personally because of the events that took place just the week before. The Officer Candidate School class I was a part of in 1967 began contacting each other and the accounting for all the soldiers was shared among us. I have never tried to find all my classmates out of fear of learning the causalities. Eight died during the Vietnam conflict, and one was awarded the Medal of Honor. It is for those men and all the men and women who have died while serving their country that we take time to remember their ultimate sacrifice. God Bless the brave souls of every one of our fallen heroes.

Memorial Day, known for many years as Decoration Day began during the Civil War. First, the women of the South decorated the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. Next, freed slaves buried and decorated the graves of Union soldiers who died in captivity. General Logan proclaimed May 30 as “Decoration Day” in 1868 and the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers were honored at Arlington National Cemetery. With that proclamation, this was the 151st anniversary of Memorial Day. The 1971 Congress passed a law making the Monday following the last Sunday in May as a National Holiday.

Another important historical event, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, will be taking place. On June 6, 1944, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, led the Allied Forces in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Code-named Operation OVERLORD, this was the greatest invasion in human history that, less than a year later, led to the liberation of Europe from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi tyranny.

The Eisenhower Foundation, in partnership with the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas, will mark the 75th anniversary of this historic event by hosting a week of events commemorating D-Day, as well as honoring Dwight D. Eisenhower and the soldiers who bravely served the U.S. during World War II. Events begin on June 1 and continue through June 6, the actual date of the invasion. For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.eisenhowerfoundation.net.

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