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Tammy Messina: Let’s honor all our armed forces this month

Right Here, Right Now!

Posted: May 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

There are many things for Republicans and Democrats to disagree about. The finger-pointing, name-calling and mudslinging never seem to stop. However, there is one topic that we should always have common ground — giving honor to our military, our veterans and our fallen heroes.

Two important days occur each year during the month of May: Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.

“It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.

On Saturday, we will observe Armed Forces Day. First celebrated in 1905, this is a day to honor all of our U.S. armed forces. Prior to establishing Armed Forces Day, each branch of the military had its own specific day each year. Once unified under the Department of Defense, a single day of celebration was created to honor all our military. It is celebrated the third Saturday each May.

According to the Department of Defense, “It was a day for the military to show ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment to the civilian population it was protecting. And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the armed forces of the United States.”

Memorial Day, which is May 30 this year, originated from Decoration Day, which was established in 1868 as a day to remember those soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War by decorating their gravesites. After World War I, the day was expanded to pay tribute to all those who died in American wars, and in 1971, it was declared a national holiday, and is observed the last Monday in May.

In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan issued an order that drives home the true intent of Memorial Day:

“Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic. ... Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the nation’s gratitude — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”

While one day is set aside to honor and praise our military, and the other to pay tribute to our fallen heroes, both are intended to be days of remembrance when we give thanks to the people who secure our freedoms and reflect on the sacrifices made by those in service and their families. Neither is a small sacrifice.

I urge you on these days to reach out to our servicemen and women and their families personally and thank them. Without their dedication, we would not have the freedoms we do today.

I close with an admonition posted in the New York Times on May 17, 1952, in special tribute to Armed Forces Day:

“It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection, they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them.”

Local observances
2011 Armed Forces Day Festival: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Hart Park in Newhall. Advanced tickets are $10 and include two barbecue tickets, live music, demonstrations of military equipment and drills from all branches, an obstacle course, a motorcycle contest and two raffle tickets.

Following the festival is a candlelight vigil hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military at Veterans Historical Plaza. For advance tickets, email Tickets may be purchased at the gate that day.

23rd annual Memorial Day ceremony: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday at Eternal Valley Memorial Park, the ceremony will commence with the sound and appearance of the AT-6 planes of the Condor Squadron flying overhead.

More than 500 area Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts will place more than 5,000 American flags on the graves of veterans. Following the ceremony, the audience is invited to the Veterans Memorial Wall for the reading of the more than 850 names inscribed on the wall. Refreshments provided. For information, call (661) 259-0800.

Tammy Messina is a resident of Santa Clarita and a local business owner. She can be reached at


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