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May 29, 2023
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Once a year, on the last Monday in May, we set aside a day to honor our fellow Americans who made the greatest of all sacrifices so that the rest of us could continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty and security. Although we’ve seen a number of tragedies recently, with many innocent victims to mourn, we can’t let this day pass without paying our respects to those who gave their lives to preserve our freedom, both recently and long ago.

Memorial Day was born after the Civil War, when families would take a day to tend and decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers.  It soon spread to the North, and became known as Decoration Day.  Eventually, it became a national holiday to honor all American military veterans who gave up their homes, their families, their very lives -- everything they had, or ever dreamed of having – all in sacrifice for their country.  And just how many have made that ultimate sacrifice?  Brace yourself: 

From the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812, the Civil War and Spanish American war, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the other wars, police actions and rescue missions around the world since 1776, over one million, three hundred and eight thousand Americans have died in uniform.

Imagine if all those soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen could come back to life for a Memorial Day parade. Picture them marching past in rows of ten, each row taking just 10 seconds to pass.  That parade would stretch on and on, row after row, 360 rows per hour, for hour after hour, 24 hours a day, for over 15 straight days.  That is the enormity of the military casualties America has experienced since 1776.  That doesn’t even include the millions more who sacrificed their limbs, their sight, their peace of mind, and the best years of their lives, all for us.

Makes you realize just how ignorant and slanderous it is to claim America's history is built on slavery, racism and selfishness instead of freedom, compassion and sacrifice. 

Today's military members, like those before them, risk their lives to protect the cherished American principles of liberty, equality, democracy, fighting tyranny and defending the weak.  Previous generations guarded these bedrock principles so that they could be passed down to us.  It is now our sacred duty to preserve them for future generations. 

Every year, the American Legion sells poppy pins to support veterans and their families.  May 26th was National Poppy Day this year (https://www.legion.org/poppyday). I hope you bought one and are wearing it proudly. If not, you can still go to their website to buy their merchandise and make a donation to support them.

The poppy became the symbol of Memorial Day, thanks to the famous poem, “In Flanders’ Fields,” by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae.  He wrote it in memory of his friend Alexis Helmer, whom he watched die in battle in World War I. 

The poem starts, “In Flanders’ fields, the poppies blow,

Between the crosses, row on row…” 

You can read the entire poem at the American Legion link above. It's very short, but it conveys a powerful message of the depth of those soldiers' sacrifice and the debt we owe them all. 

With the pandemic now over, we can once again gather in most places to show our support for veterans and our gratitude to those who gave their lives to protect our freedom. But even if you’re unable to attend a public commemoration, you can still show your support by proudly flying the American flag today.  And we can all offer support to some of the many great veterans’ organizations, such as the VFW and the American Legion.

Another great organization with an especially timely mission is Code Of Vets, founded by Air Force veteran Gretchen Smith.  She and a staunch supporter, the late Charlie Daniels, once appeared on “Huckabee” on TBN to talk about the group’s efforts to provide support to veterans who have fallen through the cracks in the VA health care system and prevent them from becoming part of the shockingly high veteran suicide statistics. You can learn more and donate at http://www.codeofvets.com.  It’s tax-deductible, and with their 1% operating costs, you can rest easy knowing that 99 cents of every dollar given goes directly to help veterans in need.

And of course, one more thing we can all do from wherever we are is stop for a moment and think of all the rows and rows of crosses in veterans’ cemeteries…say a prayer of thanks to them…and remember that each and every cross represents a genuine American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. 

McCrae’s poem ends, “To you, from failing hands, we throw the torch.  Be yours, to hold it high.  If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders’ fields.” If you really want to memorialize these greatest of American heroes, then take up the torch they passed to us. Hold it high, and never let it drop.

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The Meaning of Memorial Day

Comments 1-9 of 9

  • Kevin Lindsay Fowler

    06/02/2023 03:09 AM

    Hi Mike, you mentioned about the poppies for Memorial Day. The true story of the poppies commenced after WWI, when French ladies knitted poppies to sell, and the money was sent to England, to use to cover medical costs for those veterans who had fought in France to save it from the Germans. The Brits thought this was a great idea, and it spread throughout the British Empire, including Canada. The idea may have then spread to the USA, or from the poem you quoted. However, it is a great idea and has raised lots of money to help the wounded veterans.

  • David Miles

    05/30/2023 07:23 PM

    Thank you Governor Huckabee for your moving words concerning Memorial Day and all it embraces. I have always been a staunch patriot and am an Army veteran myself. Toby Keith did a song "American Soldier" which speaks of I didn't do it for the money or the glory, I just did it anyway. I take pride in my service even though I like most vets with only minor wounds or no wounds feel guilty about being thanked for our service when so many came home from Korea, Vietnam and other forgotten places and died with no thanks at all. Thank you once again. David

  • Pat Morris

    05/30/2023 11:03 AM

    I grew up honoring the men who fought for this country & studying it in school. My family always had military men, and my son just retired after 33 yrs in the Air Force.

  • Linda Bunton Thompson

    05/30/2023 09:44 AM

    How ironic that it started with Confederate memorials and that we are now having those torn down as if those men are not US veterans. That is not just disgusting, it is tragic and unacceptable. Thankfully, I live near Anderson, SC where (so far) our statue is still up and even guarded against anyone marring it in any way. I don't guess that will always be true, unfortunately. We now have liberals running as Republicans down here and I personally know of one that has gotten is "toe in" by getting elected in Anderson County as auditor. I will be watching him.
    Linda Thompson

  • Elaine bednarcik

    05/30/2023 12:23 AM

    I have an uncle that I never got to know. He is buried in France ???? where he died fighting for their freedom ??

  • Ros Weiss

    05/29/2023 04:51 PM

    Among most memorable moments spent with late husband, the day at Omaha Beach cemetery in Normandy, France, is extremely special a. The sea of graves at the foot of the water was made sharply poignant re the deaths of our men as they rose from the water only to be killed by the enemy.

  • Ed Thompson

    05/29/2023 01:48 PM

    One of my regrets in my life is I was denied the opportunity to serve in our military, due to a medical issue that, years after I tried to join, even after graduating from college with an associate degree in aviation maintenance , and lying about my draft status— I was denied entry into the military. My Father was in WWII , was stationed with General Paton, was his personal mechanic out of the entire motor pool, and my Brother was stationed in Berlin Germany in the United States Airforce as an interpreter. Many of my friends served in Vietnam and family members too. Most came back. I hold them in my highest esteem, did when they were there and did when they returned. It wasn’t their fault that they were there but they accepted their responsibility and did their duty. I’m proud to say I am friends with them all and wished I had been there too. Sad that President Woodrow Wilson way back after World War One couldn’t take the time to listen to one small voice, one small man from Indochina and hear his pleas for help from slavery under the French. The history we know as the Vietnam War would never have happened had he just taken the time to hear this man’s message. God Bless America and all our military, past, present and future.

  • carole braden

    05/29/2023 01:01 PM

    im beginning to think a lot of wars are started by war mongering pentagon officials who stand to make a fortune selling munitions etc .. im so disgusted by it all

  • karen T Rogers

    05/29/2023 11:59 AM

    These story's always bring tears to my eyes. To see what is now happening in this country to reverse what these brave folk fought and died for! They would not have PUT up with this evil scum degenerates in this country, why are we???????? WE MUST do it in their fond memories!!!!!!!!!! We must not let them and this country fail, wipe the scum out for good and let liberty, freedom, peace, safety, reign forever more!!!