Memorial Day 2016

On Monday, Memorial Day will be celebrated across the United States. It’s a third day to a (usually) fair-weathered weekend. It also means that Brian (and I, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones) will be making some S’mores. Lee’s sister can delve into the lighter colors in her closet. And, of course, American flags are in line up & down the streets in my neighborhood.

Many of us who are military veterans receive thanks for our service from time to time. And most of us will acknowledge that it was our honor to serve. But not on Monday – we didn’t earn that. Memorial Day is when we remember those who lost their lives while serving in our nation’s defense.

I got to serve during a time of peace. I’m grateful that I never saw combat, and I’m humbled to share the distinction of “veteran” with those who did. Those who saw combat may very likely know someone they will remember on Monday.  Others will remember a friend or family member…may they know comfort and peace from the thanks of a grateful nation.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, I encourage you to spend the time…even if it’s a just a moment…to consider the price that’s been paid for the freedoms we enjoy.  And have a great Memorial Day – it’s been paid for.

Memorial Day

 

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Independence Day

I think the Fourth of July might be my favorite summer holiday. Warm weather, picnics, family, friends, fireworks…and a day off to enjoy it all to its fullest! It’s also the second summer holiday in fairly rapid succession; coming just a few weeks after Memorial Day. I’ve written before (twice, actually) about the differences in what we’re observing on these two holidays, but I’m still keenly aware of their importance to our American heritage: Memorial Day, as a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedoms. And Independence Day, as, what John Adams called, “the great anniversary festival:”

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
-John Adams, in a letter to his wife, upon signing the Declaration of Independence.

Since Independence Day falls on a Saturday this year, the management at EXAIR have graciously given us the day off on July 3rd in observance of the holiday. My neighborhood is decorated, as usual, with American flags up and down every street. I’m doubly blessed that where I get to spend my weekdays, and where I get to spend my weeknights & weekends, are both in tune with celebrating what I like to call the American Dream.

My fellow veterans at EXAIR on the left; my neighborhood on the right.  Great places to spend time.
My fellow veterans at EXAIR on the left; my neighborhood on the right. Great places to spend time.

For all of you in the United States, happy birthday to US, and all my best wishes for a wonderful weekend to everyone.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Memorial Day

It all started the year after I bought my house. My next door neighbor – a Vietnam-era veteran, Honor Flight Guardian, and the best neighbor ever – bought a bunch of American flags & poles, and asked if it would be OK to put them out along the sidewalk in front of our houses to observe the upcoming Independence Day holiday…he had enough to go all the way to the corner of our street. We all thought it was a fantastic idea. And it was just the start.

The following year, just before Memorial Day, as Monty raised the flags down our street, another row popped up around the corner. And, come Fourth of July, there were more. Now, every sidewalk in our neighborhood is decorated every Memorial Day and Independence Day, at 10- to 12-foot intervals (to be fair, nobody published a standard, so it is what it is) with the Stars and Stripes.

I DO love this neighborhood.
I DO love this neighborhood.

Memorial Day, is, of course, the day that we honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the great country that my awesome little neighborhood is part & parcel of. And honor it we will. There will be parades with marching bands and floats. Veteran’s groups will perform ceremonies and vigils. Military aircraft will perform fly-overs at ballgames & special events. Monty will set the flags down our sidewalk. And most of us will enjoy a long weekend.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media, reminding us of the meaning of Memorial Day, “in case you thought it was national grill-out day, just another 3-day weekend, etc.” It’s a good reminder; that much is true. But we can honor their sacrifice in celebration too. This weekend, dear reader, I encourage you to light up the grill. Go see some fireworks. Bicycle around the neighborhood (or further) with your kids.  Go camping. Sleep in. Stay up late. Spend time with friends and family. These things are the way of life that our heroes fought and died for, right?

But in the midst of whatever you do, remember them: From the Minutemen who fell at Lexington & Concord, to those who didn’t make it home from the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  May God bless them all, and those they left behind.

In closing, as a former submariner, I am also reminded of the ninety-nine members of the crew of USS Scorpion (SSN-589,) which was lost 47 years ago today (presumed, based on last communications.)

Sailors, rest your oars.
Sailors, rest your oars.

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.  It’s been paid for dearly.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Memorial Day 2013 image courtesy of Tony AlterCreative Commons License