- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
This weekend, which ends with Memorial Day on Monday, is the unofficial start of summer. This is the season of backyard barbecues, family vacations, campouts and boating.
But after more than a decade of war it is important to remember that Memorial Day is much more than that. It is a day that the United States has designated to salute the country’s fallen heroes. It is a day set aside to remember the people who have volunteered in service to their country, knowing that means they could sacrifice their lives as well.
The day first came about after the Civil War, when the northern states used it to honor their war dead. After World War I it became a holiday in all of the United States, and was meant to honor soldiers who died in all wars.
That toll has continued to mount.
Combat operations have ended in Iraq, and there has been just one American serviceman killed there this year. But 4,486 American servicemen and women have died in that war since 2003.
The war in Afghanistan continues. It has been going on since 2001, and 1,979 American military men and women have been killed; at this writing 115 have died so far this year.
Three of those who died in these wars are sons of St. Mary’s County and should be remembered by this community on Memorial Day.
Pfc. Raymond J. Faulstich Jr. was 24 when he was killed in August 2004.
Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace was 22 when he died in July 2006.
Sgt. Ryan Patrick Bowman was 24 when he was killed in August 2008.
However you may feel about the war in Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the federal government’s policies on how to handle threats to our freedom and safety, Memorial Day is a day to step back and think of the people who believed in this country so much that they were willing to give their lives for it.
Military men and women sent to war do not focus on whether the commander in chief is a Republican or Democrat. They do not debate the political implications of fighting the battle they have been told to fight. They think of the mission and the safety of fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. They think of the duty they have taken on to protect their country.
So when Monday rolls around and many of us are sitting in backyards with a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other, remember the Faulstich, Wallace and Bowman families and the losses they have suffered. Take a moment as well to think about the military men and women who are overseas now. There are many of them from St. Mary’s County still away from their homes and families. Offer a prayer for their continued safety.