Memorial Day honors service men and women who have died in service to their country. Service men and women in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard die in training and combat. Service members young and old from every branch of the military service die defending our country and our way of life.
They fight in popular and unpopular wars and conflicts in countries all over the world. They carry the American flag and the ideals and values for which it stands to every corner of the globe. They do not go for glory, honor or fame. They go because duly elected officials who represent the American people, including you and me, whether the books are cooked or not, ask military men and women to place themselves in harm's say. They sacrifice family, friends and often their own lives to serve their country. "War takes the human body and grinds it up like sausage meat. War is hell."
Memorial Day is a time when America's war dead remind us of the price of freedom. It is our solemn duty and responsibility to remember the fallen comrades, to give grateful thanks that when the nation called, they answered with their lives. They gave their lives for the ideals we cherish. They deserve credit and honor — those who by the grace of God returned to "the world," to the politicians and elected officials who sent them to war and who show no appreciation for their service.
They become homeless, jobless, penniless, physically and mentally sick and are given no respect and care for their wounds and battle scars. Nicole Goodwin, 23, home from Iraq two months ago, is homeless in the streets of New York City. She carries a heavy backpack strapped to her shoulders with documents attesting to her recent honorable discharge from the U.S. Army and she carries memories of mortar rounds, gunfights and car bombings still fresh from Baghdad. Those politicians who sent her to war did not welcome her home, and no yellow ribbons greeted her when she came back to "the world." This recent war veteran is homeless riding the subway and buses at night looking for a place to sleep.
Here on St. Croix, veterans are hospitalized in the emergency room because there are no medical wards to provide adequate health care for them. Such mistreatment of veterans not only dishonors the fallen comrades but also shows dishonor and disrespect to all those who served in the armed forces.
The war dead gave their lives in defense of loved ones and their country. They deserve credit and honor. The fallen comrades have demonstrated that "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). That is what Memorial Day is all about. May eternal rest grant unto the departed comrades, Oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
Rev. Bertram L. Charles Medford
A.M.E. Zion Church
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