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Column:Get High On Life

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / May 27, 1998

On The Real Meaning Of Memorial Day

On my 1998 calendar, the wording on May 25 is: Memorial Day (observed).

May 30’s wording is: Traditional Memorial Day.

This past weekend we observed Memorial Day in spite of the fact that the traditional Memorial Day, May 30, is Saturday.

According to most Americans, this article is a little late. As far as I’mconcerned, it’s a little early because Memorial Day, to me, is still May 30.

The primary purpose of Memorial Day was to pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives fighting for freedom. By changing this holidayto fit in a three-day vacation, in my opinion, replaces the reason for which this observance was originally intended.

I would hate to think that one day Christmas might also be changed to give us a three-day vacation, making the celebration of Jesus’ birth secondary.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but Memorial Day means more to me than just a holiday and a long weekend.

Freedom is not free and can best be explained in the following poem written by Cadet Maj. Kelly Strong, Air Force Junior ROTC, Homestead HighSchool, Homestead, Fla., 1988.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

I watched the flag pass by one day.

It fluttered in the breeze.

A young Marine saluted it, and then He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform So young, so tall, so proud, With hair cut square and eyes alert He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him Had fallen through the years? How man died on foreign soil? How many mothers’ tears?

How many pilot’s planes shot down? How many died at sea? How many foxholes were soldier’s graves? No, freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night, When everything was still.

I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times That “Taps” had meant “Amen,” When a flag had draped a coffin Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children Of the mothers and the wives, Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard At the bottom of the sea Of unmarked graves in Arlington.

No, freedom is not free.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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