Memorial Day

Let me begin with one simply stated fact; I love my country.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful for everything I have in my life due to the country that I live in.

My father was the son of two people who immigrated legally to this country (before World War Two tore their homeland apart) in pursuit of a better life; in pursuit of the American dream.

My father passed this family history and his personal love of his country down to all his children. He was proud of his heritage but his pride in this country was larger than life.

I grew up with a love of my country and a love of liberty that has never wavered but only grown stronger through personal experiences over the years.

 Experiences like having had the pleasure to have known and talked with many men and women who have served our country during different conflicts in her history; Billy F. who made it off Omaha Beach alive & untouched, Bob K.,who was in the Ardennes at the Battle of the Bulge, George D., who was at Chosin in Korea, Mike L., who was at Ripcord in Vietnam and my best friend, Joe M., who was in Iraq during Desert Storm, to name just a few of these brave souls who I have had the honor to call my friends.

Some are still with us, some sadly are not.

This past Memorial Day morning I decided to take my daughter to our local cemetery so we could pay our respects to Bob K., who is interred there along with many other veterans of many different conflicts. 

As we approached his marker, I was puzzled at first, noticing that many of the headstones had no American flags next to them, not just his. However, my puzzlement quickly turned to a mixture of sadness and anger as I saw that the main flag over the veteran’s section was not at half staff. 

Not long after, as I drove away with my daughter, I remarked to her that I used to hear Taps played every Memorial Day and that I couldn’t recall in which year I stopped hearing it altogether.

It is truly a sad day in, not only our town, but in our country that the people who gave so much for our liberty, freedom and our way of life get so little respect from us as we speed through our busy days, that just one day is apparently too much to ask. 

I would ask all of you, what kind of lessons are we imparting on our children? 

What sort of legacy are we leaving behind for future generations?

I am far from perfect or without fault, but I have tried to teach my daughter differently; to get up early in the morning so you don’t need to rush and you’ll never be late, to slow down and pay attention to what’s really important before it passes you by, that being proud of your country and patriotic isn’t a bad thing, and that just because everyone around you fails to acknowledge a wrong doesn’t make it right.

More importantly, that if all of the veterans interred in the Old Eastbury Cemetery had felt differently, maybe not a single one of us would be here today.

We both agreed that Memorial Day of 2016 will definitely be different.

For them and for us.
God Bless America,
Erik Hansen

May 2015

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