Us Memorial Day only On Memorial Day, President Barack Obama will attend an anniversary ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It's a long custom for presidents to honor the nation's war dead. However, it's a sure bet that he will not honor millions of casualties of war who are not remembered--their families will never be called "Gold Star Families," even though war killed their soldiers. That's because many veterans come home alive but are so morally injured that they kill themselves because war destroyed their core moral identity and stole their will to live.
Memorial Day is the time when pundits and politicians alike stand and proclaim, "One life lost is one too many." Despite their best intentions, the statement is a hollow cliche that reflects a world as we want it to be versus the realities of the world as it is.
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to honor the country's war dead by spending the Memorial Day holiday Monday with veterans and their families, as communities across the nation host their own festivities.
The president will visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington, where soldiers have placed American flags on nearly 260,000 graves.
The first large-scale observance of what was originally called Decoration Day took place at the cemetery in 1868, three years after the bloody Civil War that killed more than 600,000 people.
It is an empty response that lacks eloquence and true understanding. It falls desperately short in its attempt to honor those who have laid down their lives for their country or pay tribute to their families who have truly sacrificed for our nation. But what does it all mean in the context of sacrifice, commitment and dedication? A life lost impacts a family, their friends, comrades and the community they represent. One life represents so much more than a number; it is reflective of a community, a county, a state and our nation.
We never dreamed anything could happen to her. We thought she was safe, teaching aerial gunnery, trying to do the right thing. She believed in it so much, said Bagot, who lives in Uptown New Orleans now.
Historians from the National World War II museum recently recorded Bagot’s memories in order to feature Germaine’s story among those of service members lost during the war.
The fallen will be remembered this Memorial Day during the museum’s annual tribute, which includes concerts of patriotic music and a memorial ceremony, said Clem Goldberger of the World War II Museum.
Our military has always answered the call of our nation. Service members take an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic," which embodies the ideals of America. They acknowledge the gravity with "so help me God." Some go on to pay the ultimate sacrifice that transcends human logic. Everyone who serves gives some, while some give all.
When Germaine Laville turned 16 in 1938, her family and friends celebrated in the yard of their home in Plaquemine. It was May, and her younger sister, Betty Bagot, now 86, still remembers the pink roses blooming on the arbors.
Six years later, loved ones gathered again in honor of Germaine, nicknamed Bebe, but this occasion was sad. A member of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserves, she died in a fire in June 1944 while teaching at the Marine Air Base in Cherry Point, N.C. She was 22.
The war touched every aspect of life. “I went to LSU. There were no men, just women and 4Fs,” she said, referring to men who were ineligible to serve. Food and supplies were rationed, although with so many children and a garden on their property, no one went hungry.
“My brothers loved sugar and ketchup, and we never had enough of that,” Bagot said. “Of course, nylon stockings were a no-no and cigarettes were pathetic — you couldn’t get the kind you wanted.”
Bagot remembers the family was sitting at supper when the phone call came from the Plaquemine Western Union office. Germaine had been teaching when the building caught fire. She escaped, but ran back inside when she heard a call for help from a fellow Marine. She perished in the fire.
The whole town of Plaquemine turned out for the funeral. “It was a beautiful funeral. They even had an honor guard,” Bagot said, weeping.
Germaine was precocious. She skipped a grade and headed to LSU at 17, joining the sorority Alpha Chi Omega. She graduated at 20, eager to join the war effort on behalf of her family because the boys were all too young.