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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Vanishing before our very eyes

Friday, May 27, 2005

Today marks the beginning of the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, the traditional kick off to summer and a Monday holiday. For many families, it is a time to gather and catch up on life. Many take the time to remember loved ones that are no longer among us, especially those who served in the Armed Forces.

Memorial Day has celebrated, in one form or another, for 137 years. It began as Decoration Day in 1868, three years after the Civil War had ended. Maj. General John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. It became a part of our nation's healing after the Civil War as Union and Confederate soldiers' and sailors' graves were decorated.

Wars, unfortunately, have a habit of reoccurring. Every year, either through active duty, accident or disease, valiant men and women who have answered our nation's call for service die. It is fitting and proper that we all take the time to remember their sacrifices.

War has been written about for centuries and the subject of film and television. It has been portrayed in widely differing lights, ranging from a romantic struggle of good versus evil to literally, hell on earth. Every person who experiences it is changed, each in his or her own way, forever.

As Editor Earl Horlyk's article in today's paper points out, members of what has been called "The Greatest Generation" -- the men and women who survived The Great Depression and World War II -- are now leaving us. Many of this generation are fighting a different battle, and it is also fitting and proper that we give them our support now.

Many of these people have a great deal of time on their hands with precious little to fill it. Whether they are in their homes or in a care facility, many have living history to relate. Some can not and will not talk about their experiences, and that is fine. But those who are willing, quite often, find the telling of their tale to be therapeutic.

If you know one of these special people, take the time to listen. Their first-hand accounts of history will leave an impression on you that you will never forget.

It is just as honorable, just as fitting, to honor the living as well as the dead.

© 2016 Le Mars Daily Sentinel