The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MAY  2009

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

The People News
Special Report






Old Soldiers Never Die

by Alexandra Edwards

Though our country is suffering major problems with the unstable economy at this present time, it is comforting to realize that this is, after all  the United States of America. Ever since the start of the Revolutionary War, America has proved over and over it's strength and might, remaining the most powerful and prosperous country on earth. So much so, that other countries around the globe are depending on the U.S.A. for a solution to their economic crisis.

Ironically, just a couple of hundred years ago, those same nations laughed and scoffed at the people of the new America as they fought and sacrificed everything for their freedom from tyranny.

Alexandra Edwards

What makes this country so unique are the liberties and freedoms diligently fought for by our  founding fathers and left as a legacy in the form of the U.S. Constitution.  Since that time, many wars have been fought and millions of gallant soldiers lives lost in order to defend and maintain those rights and freedoms. Memorial Day is a day dedicated to honor all the men and women who have given their lives while serving this country.

Ever since the U.S.  Civil War, a day has been set aside to honor the nation's dead soldiers by decorating their graves. May 30th, 1868  was originally declared Decoration Day by  General John A. Logan of the grand army of the republic as a day designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the civil war.

War hero, General James Garfield, later to become our 20th President, made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery during the first celebration of  Decoration Day in which 5000 participants helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

After World War One observances began to include honoring those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. has continued to be the official Memorial Day remembrance ceremonial site, in which the President or Vice-President of the United States will give a speech to honor all  soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in all American wars. A small American flag is placed on each grave and  a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Over 5,000 people usually attend the ceremonies which is often followed by a parade of marching bands and patriotic floats with Veteran units from all 50 states participating.

Local communities nationwide hold their own ceremonies where citizens can honor family members, friends or acquaintances that have bravely and unselfishly given their lives for this country.

Almost everybody knows at least one person in their life who did not make it home from a war. Ancestors are remembered from the Revolutionary War (1775-1783),  The War of 1812 (1812-1815), Mexican War (1846-1848), Civil War (1861-1865),  Spanish American War (1898),  World War I (1914-1918), World War II, (1939-1945), to the brave soldiers of the  Korean War (1954-1975), Vietnam War (1954-1975), Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), the War on Terrorism Afghanistan, and the ongoing Iraq War  (2001- present). Also, remembered are the 3,000 civilians and members of the military who died  in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C during the vicious attacks of September 11, 2001.

Some veterans believe Memorial Day, which this year falls on Monday, May 25th, should return to being observed on the original day of May 30th.  They feel that since Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May, it has become just another commercialized "holiday weekend."  Some southern communities have continued with their own date for Decoration Day as well as observing the national Memorial Day.

Memorial Day can be observed personally by proudly flying the Stars and Stripes at your home,on your car, or by wearing a flag pin or our flag colors.

If the flag is on a flag pole, it is respectful to fly the flag at half staff until noon. The POW/MIA flag should also be displayed if available to honor the prisoners of war and missing in action. Another way to pay your respects on Memorial Day is to visit a local cemetery and place a flower on the grave of  a fallen soldier.

Memorial Day can also be observed by attending your local community ceremony, they are usually held before noon. You are likely to hear some very interesting speakers with some great stories to tell and feel the true meaning of the day when hearing Taps played.

For those who cannot make the ceremony, the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time, on Memorial Day can be observed. Wherever you are whether it be by the swimming pool, picnicking at the park, gather family or friends together and take a one minute silence to remember those who died for our freedom.

By showing the patriotism this country so rightly deserves the soldiers who served in each of the wars mentioned above will know that the giving of their lives was not in vain.

At the same time  will reclaim the American tradition of  Memorial Day as the holiday it was meant to be.

Old soldiers should never die and should forever be in our thoughts.