Memorial Day - A time of reflections

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ish Mohammed
  • U.S. Air Force Honor Guard first sergeant
The senseless tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, stirred the spirit of patriotism and unity in the hearts of all Americans. Some of us remember how deep our emotions ran when we heard those powerful words, "United We Stand" and "God Bless America."

We rallied around military personnel and their families, hugged strangers, wore patriotic T-shirts, proudly displayed American flags and made banners that read, "Support our Troops." Tears came to our eyes and chills ran down our spines every time we heard the words of Lee Greenwood patriotic song, "God Bless the USA."

Hearing those words made us feel good about ourselves and our country. Ordinary Americans were sending their sons and daughters off to join the war efforts in record numbers. We were united, strong and proud, and wanted everyone around to know how patriotic we were -- duty, honor and country inspired all of us.

It's been nearly six years since that fateful day, and the patriotism doesn't echo as loud and vibrant as it did then. What happened? Where are all the banners, ribbons and T-shirts? Was it all a blind sense of patriotism or have we grown tired of the war?

Regardless of our feelings, we owe it to ourselves to not loose faith, and renew our sense of duty and patriotism during this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Let the feelings of patriotism, appreciation, support, love and prayers show for our courageous men and women now defending our freedoms in far-flung countries around the globe. Let's respectfully honor those who have risked their lives for the sake of America through its times of war and struggle. Let us not forget the brave men and women in uniform who stood up against tyranny and oppression, and selflessly gave their freedom so others may have it.

Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to express the special places we have in our hearts honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us a free country -- let's reflect on this day. As we celebrate Memorial Day, help others to reflect on what this day truly means for Americans.

Memorial Day is a day to reflect on the sacrifices and services of our veterans and courageous military men and women, past and present, who continue to inspire us by their unwavering courage and valor. 

Let's also reflect on what our greatest national symbol, the America flag, and those who defend it stand for -- freedom. The red represents the blood of all our fellow Americans who gave their lives to keep America free. The white represents peace and freedom. And old glory's blue -- this is the hope that America will continue to be the "land of the free and home of the brave."

When I reflect on what Memorial Day means to me, I think about:

-- encouraging neighbors, family members, friends and children to visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes. 

-- visiting memorials such as the Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, National World War II memorials, etc., and feel the presence of great courage and sacrifice in our hearts. 

-- flying the POW/MIA flag and remember those whose freedom was taken away and those not yet accounted for. 

-- participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance" at 3 p.m. to pause, listen to taps and think about the true meaning of the day. 

-- renewing my pledge to aid widows, widowers, orphans and offer thanks to veterans and the bereaved family of our fallen.

-- honoring those who died in conflict of wars and made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our great country.