Memorial Day 2017

On Memorial Day: be sure to take a moment to reflect on those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our values.

And, to those who observe: best wishes for Ramadan.

I think that Memorial Day and APA Heritage Month make for an interesting combination.  It’s more than enjoying the unofficial start of summer, but to reflect and consider people who don’t always get remembered.

Consider: NBC News Asian America has an interesting article by Lakshmi Gandhi, profiling Hazel Ying Lee, “Remembering Hazel Lee , the first Chinese-American Female Military Pilot.” She was one of two Asian-American women who were WASPs, when WASPs weren’t necessarily considered part of the military, and when civilians wondered if Chinese people were the Japanese enemy.

Or consider this NPR item, which aired on “All Things Considered”: “Don’t Say ‘Thank You for Your Service’ This Monday,” as we recognize that those who served are part of the diverse fabric of American life – and they do what they believe in, not to be thanked, and because we should remember their friends who didn’t get to come home.

I also tend to think that Americans have lost sight of the meaning of both Memorial Day and Veterans Day (aka Armistice Day, aka the day that World War I ended). While you should enjoy the day, it’s not as simple as saying “Have a Happy One,” when there ought to be more reflection or service involved.

(and as for how we treat those who served, served, and survived – well, that’s another issue, but it’d be nice if we can do better for them; like the article says, saying thanks is nice, but it’s not an end in and of itself).

And, bearing in mind that Memorial Day was once Decoration Day, it’s also about tending to the tombs and paying respect.  I liked this item over at NPR, about a man’s project to clean the headstones of World War I veterans.

“Perhaps not imagining a face of an individual is a product of the military culture, one that simply relied on trusting the members of your team, regardless of where they came for or what they looked like. And perhaps seeing the green, blue, white, tan, or khaki uniform is all I really needed to know because people of all races, creeds, color, and religions have fought for our country.” — Art delaCruz.

delaCruz’s moving essay over at NBC News Asian America is worth a read. In our current charged political climate (then again, when is it not charged?), perhaps it’s more important than ever to reflect on the diversity and commonality of our armed forces and how that represents all of us.  A lot of food for thought.

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