In 2000 Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 PM on Memorial Day in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3:00 PM "is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday."
I am sorry to say that I, nor my family, celebrated a moment of silence at 3:00 PM yesterday. It was not an act of disrespect, but ignorance. I did not know about the National Moment of Remembrance. No one in the pool I was swimming in at 3:00 PM seemed to know about it either. Had someone rung a bell, or made an announcement or simply asked us to pause for a moment of silence I would have been more than glad to participate. I have a great respect for Memorial Day that has its roots in the carnage of the Civil War where over 620,000 soldiers died not against a foreign adversary but in a war between ourselves. Women began to "decorate" the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers. "Decoration Day" gave way to "Memorial Day" and the fallen of wars expanded to include World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
Yesterday I paused to watch the ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. The tomb there holds the remains of an unknown soldier from World War I, World War II and Korea. Ronald Reagan interred remains of an unknown soldier from Vietnam but later those remains were identified and removed to another location requested by the family.
Arlington Cemetery holds the remains of roughly 400,000 people and covers 624 acres (roughly the size of 472 football fields). As I sat in front of my television and watched the honor guard protect the tomb of the unknowns I was reminded of the many (roughly 400,000) unknowns to me who lay in that sacred place. They were Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and many other forms of religion. They were Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and some who really never identified politically with anyone. They were Caucasian, African-American, Chinese, Hispanic, and this list could go on forever.
But the one thing they had in common, they served our country at one time or another. Some of them saw combat while others did not. Some died in combat while other died of natural causes. At some time in their life they stood shoulder to shoulder with others who were committed to protecting our way of life. In their diversity there was great unity. There were Democratic principles that were deeply instilled in their beings. They were willing to give their their lives for those principles.
I thank God for their service and willingness to place their lives in harms way. They deserve much more than a moment of silence at 3:00 PM on Memorial Day.
This is my story...