Nothing brings the thoughts of Memorial Day closer than laying to rest someone close. Recently, we rode our motorcycles to Florence National Cemetery to inter the remains of a spouse of one of our riders. I never met the man but he was a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran. I have known his wife for a few years; she is one of our sister riders. She had more than 30 other bikes by her side rain or shine to be there for her. We had our own little ceremony and presented her an American Flag and played taps. We all shared her tears.
Standing in that large Florence National Cemetery with all those matching stones as far as the eye can see really brings the cost of war to life. And that is only one of many national cemeteries in the U.S. Many are full, and new ones are being built as I write this. There are U.S. National Cemeteries all over Europe and other continents.
When you see these huge burial grounds, think about the families that are left behind. There are children without a parent, the spouses without a partner. The buddies that fought with these brave men and women and managed to survive and are never the same. We need to never forget the sacrifices that have been made and are being made today. It does not matter if the conflict is popular or not. U.S. citizens step forward to join the military and do what they are asked. That is what Americans have done since the Revolution and we will continue to do that to protect our way of life.
If you have a relative or friend who was a veteran and they are interred close by, stop by this month and put a small flag on their grave if there is not one there already. Many of the veterans groups that are able will do what they can. It’s the least we can do to remember them one month out of the year. I read an article once about veterans buried overseas and I remember one remark. “The United States has fought in wars on just about every continent to help other countries and all we have ever asked for is a place to bury our dead.”
The writer, vice director of the American Legion Riders Post 178, lives in Murrells Inlet.