There is a cemetery known as Arlington Cemetery which is located in Virginia and stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, DC. There is a tomb there known as the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, guarded during the times Arlington is opened. These guards are changed every 30 minutes during the summer and every 2 hours during winter. On Memorial Day, the President of the United States goes there and places a wreath to represent this holiday. It is amazing to watch this ceremony and watch the soldiers in formation and all steps are done in precision. This is an unforgettable sight that will always hold special memories for me.
On the 27th of May this year I will be reflecting on past experiences of my time in the United States Army. After boot camp and A (tech) School, I thought I was a strong and very knowledgeable young man going to be stationed at my first duty station in Ansbach Germany. After getting to Germany I was assigned to work with my sergeant, who let me take the lead on a task to see what I knew. After fumbling thru the task for an hour, he asked if I needed help. As a young man that thought I was invincible, I reluctantly asked him if he would explain what I was needing to look at and the depth of detail for the inspection. While he was explaining the inspection criteria, I asked a few questions about the task. The fact that I asked questions and was eager to learn impressed him. From that day forward he took me under his wing and taught me how to work and troubleshoot the aircraft. Two of the main things that I learnt from him was always have an open mind and be willing to be adaptable in any situation.
About a year later I was deployed to Iraq to support the Operation Iraqi Freedom II. While being deployed, I joined the roving patrol team that protected just outside our base of operations. During one of our patrols, my team was hit by an IED. We immediately set up a perimeter around the disabled Humvee. When I approached the Humvee one of my buddies yelled at me to stop and look down. I stopped and looked to see that I was next to an unexploded antitank mine. After we got our injured comrades medevacked and EOD disposed of the unexploded landmine, I made sure to thank my buddy for warning me about the second landmine and saving my life.
So although for some Memorial Day is all about the unofficial start of summer vacation observed on the last Monday of May. For me and many others, it is our time to visit cemeteries and memorial events to honor those who have died in the military service. We have parades and some people and most churches will place the American flag along their property lines to honor our soldiers and thank them for their service.