It is Memorial Day weekend: The kick-off for the summer season. But while we are celebrating with family gatherings, picnics and burgers on the grill, let us not forget the reason for the holiday.
Every year on Memorial Day weekend I make the following post on Facebook. It is an excerpt from an interview I did with a Word War II veteran when I worked at the Gratiot County Herald many years ago. It is the real reason why we observe Memorial Day.
It was dark when they crossed the English Channel to the beaches at Normandy, France. (Ted) Tedhams said the sky was lit up like day from the artillery fire.
“Our landing boat dropped its ramp and a tank – with men on board – went out first. The water was too deep and it sank immediately. The men couldn’t get out. They were buried there in that tank. I’ve always wanted to go back to find out what happened to their bodies – if they were ever removed from the tank.”
It wasn’t until much later Tedhams learned the reason the landing boat didn’t go closer to shore was because the pilot didn’t want to run over the bodies floating in the water.
“When we got off the landing boat, we were in water up to our necks. We had to push the bodies out of the way to get to shore. It’s not something you easily forget.”
Despite the cold, the campground is filled for the holiday weekend. Many are flying the flag from their RVs. It’s a good thing to see. It’s nice to see families starting to gather together to observe the holiday. I think we all are happy that things are beginning to get back to normal.
But while we are getting back to some semblance of normalcy, let us not forget the real reason for the holiday and the extra vacation day from work: Many made the ultimate sacrifice for our privilege of gathering together.