Memorial Day


Happy Memorial Day St. Louis!!

Memorial day marks the beginning of summer when the pools open, family vacations are on the horizon, and outdoor BBQ season is in full force. In St. Louis, it's a day when we break free of the constraints of winter and really begin to live outdoors.

But, hold on a second. What is Memorial Day actually about? 
It's about honoring, or remembering, the 100's of thousands of men and women who have given their life during war. Unlike Veteran's day that honors all people who have served in the military whether they faced death or not (like myself), Memorial day is to honor those who literally gave their life in defense of our nation. This is a big deal. Other people, we do not know, gave their lives so we are free to splash in our pools, grill our hotdogs, and play in complete peace that we are a free nation without threat to our lives. This people gave their lives for us.

Another aspect of this conversation is who were, and are, these people? Where did they come from? What religions did they practice? What is their genealogy backgrounds? The answers to these questions is eye opening, and in my opinion reason for us to take pause. Why is there so much division in our nation when we the people ban together and fight side by side, to the death for one another. And yet, during times of calm we forget we are one in our nation and freedom.

One might have an image of a US soldier as a Caucasian male dressed in a sharp military uniform. The demographics of the US military show otherwise. Historically the make up of the US Military is quite eye opening with large numbers of the fallen being Black, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, and non denominational. The vast majority are from small towns. Another shocking fact is that many fighting for our freedom are not even US citizens. That's correct. We have service members from every war who have given their lives in combat, who were not citizens. We have citizen who won't bother to serve in defense of our nation.
It's fascinating to learn how blacks took up arms during the civil war, that Japanese, Chinese and Filipino Americans fought and died in WWII while their families in back in America were being rounded up and placed in camps. 
Can you imagine yourself giving your life for a country who is actively striping your family of their freedom, property and dignity. That is true dedication to our country. For this, and so many other stories, we owe those who have given their lives for us a great deal of honor. This is what memorial day is truly about. 
In St. Louis we have the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. JB Cemetery is one of the oldest military interment sites in the US. My grandfather, several uncles and close family members are buried there. In Hawaii, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was established in 1949. Punchbowl, as it is known, was first used to bury hundreds of unidentified remains from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Overlooking Honolulu, and nestled at the base of the Ko'olau mountains, Punchbowl is a volcanic crater that raises 461 feet above sea level. Oahu has three such small craters that include Diamondhead and Kokohead.

Unlike most US Military cemeteries, Punchbowl does not have the sterling white vertical grave markers. All markers lay flat to the earth. I am not sure why this is, but I can take a few guesses. 

In contrast to visiting Pearl Harbor, that is sad with memories and visions of devastation, Punchbowl is more reverent. With a gorgeous view of Pearl Harbor to the west and Diamondhead to the east, all of Honolulu and Waikiki lay below you. The trade winds blow the flags as birds chirp. If you are standing at the rim of Punchbowl you can take in a deep breath and be thankful that our lives are good. If you visit Oahu, Punchbowl is a drive worth making. Say Mahalo from the deepest part of our hearts for those who deserve to be honored and remembered.




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