So which one is Memorial Day?
By Sgt. Jerome Bishop
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Not long ago while I was sitting at my desk at work, a Soldier presented an interesting question, not because of what it was, but what made it interesting is why it was asked.
"So what's Memorial Day, again?" the Soldier asked.
This kind of disturbed me. As it turns out, the confusion came from the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. While both are federal holidays to remember our nation's service members past and present, only one commemorates the living.
The one that doesn't is May 26, the last Monday in May. That one would be Memorial Day. I just never thought I'd have to explain that to someone.
When Memorial Day comes around, a lot of thoughts rush to mind. Memories of picnics with the family, maybe catching the Indianapolis 500 Indy car race with a cold beverage in hand or enjoying the sun at a nearby public pool that just opened for the summer – all of which are easily recognizable traits of Memorial Day. All the while, the true meaning of Memorial Day remains hidden in the back of our mind – if it's even there at all.
Commemoration ceremonies and remembrances take place all over the United States on Memorial Day. We all know it's a holiday. It's a day off work, and it's got something to do with wars. Most people my age won't be seen at events like those. I know I've never been to my town's festivities – not often at least.
Four years ago, I would have been the last one to say I wanted to take time during the day commonly referred to as the beginning of summer to fill my head with sad memories of how too many of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, never made it home. That was then.
Three years ago, I was about 60 kilometers north of here on Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Balad for Memorial Day, and this year, I'm in Baghdad.
To me and a lot of other servicemembers braving the sand, heat and bullets in Iraq, Memorial Day carries a new meaning – to remember not those servicemembers we only knew by the name on their tombstone at Arlington, but the ones whom we've shared meals and laughs with while trying to make the best of discomfort.
I'm fortunate enough to say I haven't lost a friend over here, but as my job takes me from unit to unit, the list of acquaintances grows – and more than a few might not make it home.
Three years ago, I knew Memorial Day would have a whole new meaning for me – and it truly does – because it could just as easily have been my name stretched across a banner for home town heroes lost in battle.
One day, I'm sure I'll hear that question again: “Which one is Memorial Day?” or something of the sort. Unlike most people, I'll have a unique story to tell – just as we all do.
Edit:our dad didn't write this but we thought it was so good we has to share it with you all.