Memorial Day – Why We Remember

MEMORIAL DAY

Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day

BY JACK LEVINE

Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day, our nation’s commemoration of the sacrifices made by those whose lives were lost for the freedoms we hold sacred.

Whether our veterans survived their military service, or were killed on the field of battle, our country owes each of them, and their families, a debt of gratitude.

Our nation has been the destination of choice for great waves of immigrants from the world’s most frightening and repressive nations.  My father and maternal grandparents were three of those immigrants, and perhaps your family has its story of freedom-seeking relatives.

As we look back at the wars proposed by presidents, declared by Congress, and supported to varying degrees by our citizens, let’s remember that none of these conflicts were or, to this day, are immune from political and social controversy.

But we should never confuse debate over military policy with the need to be respectful of those whose lives are at risk on the battlefield, in the air, or on the seas.

Our nation has been the destination of choice for great waves of immigrants from the world’s most frightening and repressive nations.  My father and maternal grandparents were three of those immigrants, and perhaps your family has its story of freedom-seeking relatives.

Cargo of the living dead: The unspeakable horror of life on a slave ship.

I am very conscious of the history of our African-American neighbors whose ancestors came shackled in the holds of slave ships, and Native-Americans whose ancestors were slaughtered or subjected to racist cruelties.

I believe with all my heart that we should know our own history and should passionately advocate so that the children of all families can enjoy the opportunity to be free from the threats of injustice, oppression and terror.

Our freedoms were earned, bled for, and in many cases, died for.

Memorial Day presents the chance to gather our thoughts and honor the military service of our parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

These individuals either volunteered or were drafted, wore the uniform of our armed forces, and gave all or a portion of their lives in service to our nation and its allies.

In honor of those we’ve lost, let’s not be passive about the importance of their sacrifice.  In their honor, let’s pledge to participate in the following advocacy activities:

  • Register, vote, and urge others to do the same. Democracy demands dedication and active participation!
  • Actively communicate with our elected officials about issues affecting families, including military families and people with special challenges. Remember, our elected officials work for us!
  • Share your thoughts in the media by writing letters to the editor and interviewing with reporters. Media is our most cost-effective megaphone.
  • Motivate youth to exercise their voice in matters which affect them. The next generation of advocates need good role modeling.
  • Confront those who think that complaining about problems is sufficient. Whining is not as good as winning! Silence is not golden when there are wrongs to be corrected.
  • Honor community leadership and promote active involvement by family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors as volunteers, whom I call “time philanthropists.”
  • Support causes which focus on advocating positive change, prevention policies and innovative programs. Spectatorism doesn’t produce progress…active investment is key to progress!

A Compelling Video – Freedom is Not Free

This brief video….less than 4-minutes in length….says so much about our nation’s priorities and the sacrifices which are needed to protect our freedoms.Whether you are a fan of President Ronald Reagan or not, I believe you will be engaged and inspired by viewing this video and contemplating its message.

A Good News Story – Carrying a Veteran

George Boone figured that 70 yards away was the closest he could get to his late wife’s grave site during his visit to Arlington National Cemetery. At 96, the WWII veteran lacked the strength to make the trek from the car on his own.But then two observers stepped up to help him.

“It’s not all what we see on the news. There are incredible people out there waiting to do good things and show acts of kindness.”

memorial dayBoone, a former B-24 pilot who was shot out of the sky and held as a prisoner of war by the Nazis during his service, traveled to Washington, D.C. from North Carolina on an Honor Flight. Although his wife Alma’s grave deviated from the planned tour, volunteers wanted to make sure Boone could visit his beloved, who was laid to rest in April 2008.

As the group rushed to the site, Boone’s son, Jon, realized they’d left a crucial thing behind.  “I said, ‘Dad, I forgot the wheelchair. Do you think you can walk with assistance?”

His father said no. But the two other people in the car, who the younger Boone described as volunteers, weren’t giving up on their mission. They made a chair out of their arms and lifted Boone all the way to his wife’s resting place, where they held him up for 10 minutes while he paid his respects. His tears flowed in remembrance of his loving wife and the sacrifices she made.

The male volunteer who assisted him was so moved by the exchange that he offered to carry the veteran back to the car on his own. Although Boone refused at first, his son says the man insisted.

He said, ‘This is my honor and privilege. I’m going to carry you. Wrap your arms around my neck, I’ve got you,” the younger Boone recounted. “And off they went.”

The stranger’s gesture left him speechless, as did the entire Honor Flight’s recognition of what veterans have done for their country.

“Without a doubt, it gives you so much pride to be an American,” Jon Boone said. “It’s not all what we see on the news. There are incredible people out there waiting to do good things and show acts of kindness.”

To read more from Jack Levine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JACK LEVINE

After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida’s Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members…..also known as grandparents.

Jack’s expertise is in developing and delivering messages to the media, public officials, and a diverse network of health, education, human services and social justice advocates on the value of preventive investments in children, parent leadership, grandparent activism, and dignified services for elders.

Through public speaking, seminar and workshop leadership, community conversations and opinion columns, Jack shares information, provides inspiration and leverages advocate enthusiasm in the direction of public policy action.

Jack holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College.

He serves as Partnership Director for GRAND Media, is a member of Generations United and was a founding member of the Board of Voices for America’s Children.

A graduate of Leadership Florida, Jack was the recipient of that organization’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award.  He was named Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel.  Jack and his wife, Charlotte, live in Tallahassee, Florida and have two sons, Josh and Aaron, both graduates of the Florida State University and currently working as educators in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.

Jack Levine, Founder
4Generations Institute
Jack@4Gen.org

http://4Gen.org

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