Every year I have celebrated Memorial Day more for the time with family than truly honoring the millions of fallen soldiers who gave their lives so we as Americans can enjoy freedom as no other nation. After May 2013, Memorial Day has never been the same and my sincere celebration of the holiday has taken on new meaning. Now, I truly have an American Hero to celebrate.
My sister and best friend, Major Patricia Holmes-Ellison, led a command of soldiers, 273rd Military Police Company, in the 1991 Gulf War–having been one of the few women allowed to maintain leadership of a coed squad in combat. Early morning on May 14, 2013, she succumbed to lingering wounds from Desert Storm. She was a soldier’s soldier. Through her life, commitment to this country and death, I realized that these soldiers, even those who lost their lives, would fight again if given the opportunity. That is not to say that our country has always honored their efforts, commitment and ultimate sacrifice. I witnessed my sister fight for benefits that were rightfully hers being forced to prove that she was ever in combat.
Our patriotism for those who fight and sacrifice so much, even their lives, for us is grossly under celebrated. Not long ago I can remember the patriotism of America for those who had given their lives. Flags hung from houses as we were proud Americans honoring our war dead. In school we learned the battle and celebratory songs of this country in celebration of our country and those who gallantly served this country with honor and dignity. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance with pride knowing it united us not just as a nation, but as a country committed to God.
Today, most of our children don’t know those songs because of cuts from our music departments and we don’t sing them at home like we once did either. The majority of them don’t know the Pledge of Allegiance because God is mentioned and we are more concerned about offending rather than uniting in a corporate commitment to our country and our freedom.
Many of Americans are clueless about why we celebrate Memorial Day. Most of them feel it is another day off work; when in actuality it is a time for us to celebrate our war dead. These are the women and men who unselfishly gave of themselves and sacrificed the ultimate in battle, their lives, so we can have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Join me this Memorial Day to celebrate the millions of women and men who gave their lives so we as Americans can enjoy freedoms unlike any other nation. Pray for the strength of their families who lost their loved ones, some during battle and others later from wounds acquired during battle. Let us join together with pride knowing that their efforts and sacrifice will never be forgotten and they will never be in vain. We salute each of them throughout the history of America for their bravery, their courage and their sacrifice for us to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.