Like many others that have the day off to sleep in, relax, barbecue with friends and family, camp, or be out on the boat today, we must remember and take a moment to recognize what Memorial Day is about. And yes, I am guilty of sleeping in. As I was enjoying my (late) morning coffee, a fellow veteran and friend's post on social media got me thinking. He posted about others thanking him for his service and Happy Memorial Day to him. I have also experienced this every Memorial Holiday. While I appreciate the thanks for service, many don't know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.
Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember our Armed Service Members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom: Their lives. Their future. Their entire existence. Those lost in action and prisoners of war. Their friends and families that still miss them and think of them every single day. With tears in their eyes thinking about what could have been. Their children that never got to know them.
THIS is who we need to thank. Go to a local war memorial. THANK them in person. They are there. They do listen. They need to know their lives were not lost in vein. That we can never repay them for our debt in losing their lives, but we appreciate and thank them for protecting us and our freedom.
With that being said, and being in tears from writing this, we went and visited our local Michigan Vietnam Memorial Monument, which is in front of the Michigan Hall of Justice. A couple of blocks directly behind the State Capitol. Many people don't know this exists, and I came across it shortly after moving to Lansing on a run.
Erected and dedicated in 2001, this monument is a powerful tribute to the 2,651 Michigan casualties who died during the Vietnam War. Over 400,000 men and women of the state served our country in this war. The memorial is a 120-ft. long graceful steel arc that is suspended three feet above the ground. (credit: Michigan.org) Unfortunately, the link from the State of Michigan's website is broken.
On one side of the arch is a timeline of the Vietnam War Era, from July 8, 1959, when the US had the first American casualties in Vietnam, to April 30th, 1975, which is the day the last Americans left Saigon and President Minh announced unconditional surrender.
As you walk around to the inside of the arch, there is a memorial of Michigan armed service members that have lost their lives. Named alphabetically by county in Michigan. Underneath each list is a small shelf to place flowers and candles.
The arc, designed by architect Alan Gordon of New York, was fabricated in two sections and delivered on time to the general contractor, Christman Construction Co., for erection at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. A Vietnam Veterans Group, Citizens Patriot, rode 1,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, escorted the first section as it was moved to the site. Credit to Lincoln Electric, whom documented the build and what it took to construct it:
Happy Memorial Day. Be happy for our freedom, but let's not forget those that paid the ultimate price.
Written by: Rachel Marcero