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Despite Changes Amid Pandemic, Importance of Memorial Day Not Diminished

by on May 24, 2020 11:33 PM

As technology use has increased during this time of “new reality,” so has the demand for our attention. Many individuals deal with such demands by utilizing calendars, sticky notes or the latest trend in organization and time management so that nothing is forgotten.

Gold Star families lack the need for such remembrance-tips as they are reminded daily of their loss and pain, not because of a circled day on the calendar or a digital reminder, but rather the sight of an empty chair at the dinner table, or a photo that is not quite whole.

That is the point of having one day a year that everyone pauses to remember the fallen — to never forget our fallen men and women in uniform.

This year countless memorial services have been cancelled due to COVID-19 but that does not diminish the importance of the day and need to reflect on and remember those that are no longer with us in body.

Read: Pandemic Alters Several Memorial Day Events, Services

Many are wondering, how can you do this when social distancing is needed, or travel restrictions imposed?

Perhaps the simplest way to mark this day is to take five minutes and silently reflect on the meaning of the day, and to consider the profound sacrifice and responsibility of an all-volunteer military force.

The United States Military is not comprised of men and women forced into service through various means. No — our military members voluntarily join and serve their communities and nation. Consider the many layers of such reality, as a society and as citizens.

If able, another great way to honor the fallen is to visit your local library digitally or find an online book or journal through other means that recount the harrowing details of brave men and women going into harm’s way to preserve our way of life here on the homefront. The greatest way to honor those now gone is to never forget them … what better way than to learn about their story?

Annual events at town centers, parks, shrines and cemeteries may be cancelled. However, visiting a local cemetery or shrine on your own time, or visiting the grave of a loved one that served (perhaps not even on Memorial Day itself) and taking a stroll through its grounds is a great option. While you visit, take a moment and find a grave or monument marked by an American Flag — these are our nation’s veterans. Straighten the flag, clean off the headstone, take a moment and think about the sacrifices this man or woman made and the many celebrations and special occasions they missed during their time in the military. Then, if their military unit is listed (or not), write their name down and research what they did in the military. Not only are you learning about your local history, but you are also ensuring they are never forgotten.

Lastly — help one another. The military has many things that we as civilians would be wise to learn — one of them being to always watch out for each other and lend a hand.

For veterans quickly aging like those from World War II and the Korean War, their battle buddies may no longer be alive or well enough to lend a hand. It wasn’t too long ago that man or woman with using a walker or wheelchair was storming the beaches of Normandy, braving an artillery burst, suturing wounds in a combat tent, or worse.

Tyler Gum is the museum administrator of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.

Tyler Gum is the museum administrator of the Pennsylvania Military Museum.
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