This Memorial Day, we remember service and sacrifice

Published 10:47 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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Elizabethton does a great job of showing patriotism and appreciation to veterans and military members on such days as Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day. There are monuments downtown to prove just that – the Veterans Monument at E. Elk Avenue in front of the Carter County Courthouse, the Carter County War Memorial and Walk of Honor downtown.
Also, local groups will be placing American flags at gravestones of veterans throughout the Tri-Cities this Memorial Day weekend.
Each Memorial Day we honor those who have fought and died for America in wars here and around the world. There have been too many wars, too many fallen soldiers – 258 in Carter County, and since the founding of America, more than 1 million of our nation’s soldiers have died in the service of this country. They gave their lives fighting for the freedom we enjoy today.
They came from all walks of life, and regardless of their background, it’s a safe assumption that they hoped, in some way, to make the lives of their loved ones a little better, a little safer, a little freer.
On Memorial Day, it’s important to not only honor them but also think about how we can do our part to make our communities and our nation a better place for our families, neighbors and future generations.
These are not easy times. It has been a year that has seen massive social and racial unrest, deep political divides, and devastating shootings in communities all over this nation. Score of lives have been taken. All of these things have the potential to destroy our democracy.
But the challenges of today are no less daunting than those faced by previous generations. They met their problems head on and persevered. It’s our job to do the same.
While we remember these fallen soldiers, we also embrace hope that war could be that, a memory. War seems to be a constant in our world. The obvious headline is the war in Ukraine – and against Ukraine.
War is fought, won and lost, and often regretted, when it is too late. Memorial Day (first named “Decoration Day”) followed America’s Civil War and it was intended to commemorate both the Union and Confederate dead. It was, and would be, a day of healing as well as remembrance.
As we remember fallen soldiers today – those that gave all – we must also consider war in the present and how best to avoid it in the future.
At his dedication of the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of the sacrifice of the fallen troops as having giving “the last full measure of devotion” to the nation. Generations have given their all. Many of them were returned home in flag-draped coffins. This Memorial Day there will be no picnics for any of them…no trips to the beach…no family get-togethers. They and others killed in America’s wars will never know what it’s like to get a day off the job, gas up the car, and hit the road. They gave much for the cause of freedom.
Memorial Day is more than just a date on the calendar, more than a grand occasion to kick off the summer. Memorial Day is a day to remember the ultimate sacrifice given by our soldiers so we may all enjoy freedom and liberty. We hope everyone takes a bit of time during this weekend to pause and give thanks to those soldiers and their families for their sacrifices.

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