Hometown Happenings: Memorial Day

By George Hoehmann,
Supervisor, Town of Clarkstown

Memorial Day is about those who died in service in the armed forces throughout the history of this great nation. Indeed records show that to date 1,354,664 men and women have died in service to our nation from the Revolutionary War through this year. An additional 40,917 are officially listed as MIA and never accounted for by our country. These men and women freely gave their lives in service to our nation. These died in service in the American Revolution, some right here in our own town fighting for independence. Still others died in the War of 1812 in the Mexican American War or the Civil War when State turned against State and brother against brother. Every generation has offered the best and brightest and witnessed them cut down in the prime of life. The Spanish American War to the two World Wars, World War I and World War II. The undeclared wars known as “Police Actions” in Korea and Vietnam, the two Gulf Wars; the War against Terror and the various actions and raids where our soldiers willingly stood in harm’s way and some died. The one common denominator of these brave warriors was that they willing gave to the fullest measure. As Abraham Lincoln poignantly recalled at Gettysburg when dedicating the field and sacrifice of the fallen at a ceremony on November 19th, 1863 “they gave the last full measure of devotion” 1,354,664 brave souls freely given back to God so that freedom might ring forever throughout our land.

So today, we pause and recall the sacrifice, the lives cut short—the lives not lost but freely given in service to a greater and nobler cause. Today and throughout this weekend I ask you to think about these gallant souls. This weekend our televisions, radios and the internet will be filled with advertisements of sales with lot of numbers. These numbers will flood over us representing many things and interrupting our consciousness. We will all likely attend barbeques and will focus on still other numbers, like the address of the location, the number of people attending or the temperature of the water in the pools, rivers, lakes and ocean where we might swim. Other number’s we will hear or think about are the times of the various parades we will view or march in, the start time of the sporting events we will watch or the parties we will attend or what time we will need to leave to arrive at our various destinations on time. In short a lot of numbers will cross our minds and interrupt our lives throughout this weekend. I ask you to remember the most important number of all that you will hear this weekend—1,354,664. Because, this Memorial Day it is the only number that really matters.

I also ask you to remember one other number—namely 3:00PM. Where ever you are on Monday I ask you to stop whatever you are doing at precisely 3:00PM. Set your watch or phone to remind you. It is at this moment that our nation officially pauses to recall the fallen with a moment of silence and Memorial Day services. On Monday, if you are at the beach or the pool or at a barbeque or just home watching television I ask you to pause at 3:00PM in solidarity with the rest of the nation and in remembrance of the fallen. I ask you to say a prayer for the dead that they might be at peace and say thank you for the blessings that these have fought and died so that we might live in freedom and peace.