-Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Memorial Day is more than just an excuse for a long weekend or the start of the summer season. It’s a time to remember those who are gone: family, friends, service men and women known and unknown. Commemorating Memorial Day this year comes with additional significance.
This is the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Afghan war. In the intervening years we have also invaded Iraq and seen the war on terrorism take global center stage, and take place across the globe. So many men and women have sacrificed for this effort, and we owe them our gratitude.
Locally, we have quite a bit to be thankful for. National Guard troops and Army construction crews were some of the first responders after Tropical Storm Irene last August. Those troops helped rebuild washed out roads and helped restore a sense of normalcy to a world that had been turned upside down and washed away that fateful day. Words cannot express the gratitude owed to those men and women who answered the call to help. But we certainly owe them a large debt of gratitude, and participating in a Memorial Day ceremony is one way to begin to show that gratitude.
On another front, a very special Memorial Day service is being planned in Wilmington. Vietnam vets will be honored. Themed “A Long-Awaited Welcome Home to Our Vietnam Vets,” the service will pay tribute to the men and women who served during one of the most controversial and contentious periods of American history.
No doubt the men and women who served in the military during the Vietnam War deserve special recognition. Those were difficult years for all, both here in the states and overseas. For those who lived through those difficult years, the anger and frustration over what many saw as an unjust war often wrongly spilled over toward those who served. We know now how wrong it was to point the finger at men and women who were merely serving their country, many against their own beliefs and feelings. Those fingers deserved to be pointed at the political and industrial leaders who escalated and then prolonged the war. The men and women who served in Vietnam deserved better, and Monday will be a chance to offer some belated thanks for their service during those troubled times.
From a broader perspective, regardless of when or how, the men and women who have served this country have given up much. Is it asking too much that others take the time to show their appreciation? We hope not, and hope that everyone can take some time this weekend to show their respect to those who have served.