Shortly after the Civil War both the North and South started to recognize those warriors who died in the epic war of our time. Originally this day was called “Decoration Day,” in which all the graves of those killed in this struggle were decorated with flowers. It was observed on May 30 until the Congress decided in 1971 to call it “Memorial Day” and make it the last Monday in May which we now observe.
We are now going into our ninth year of continuous ground combat in the Middle East and our 19th year for our Air Force and Naval Forces flying combat air patrols over Iraq in Operation Desert Storm and the follow on operations of Northern and Southern Watch. This is the longest continuous combat deployment of U.S. Forces in our history and we have had corresponding causality losses, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. We honor not only these brave warriors who have made the supreme sacrifice but also all the warriors in our history going back to the Revolutionary War who gave their lives to make us free. Unfortunately, too many Americans do not understand that our freedom has not been free but has come at great sacrifice in lives of those special Americans who died for this right.
I personally have experienced this loss when my younger brother Dick was killed in action on his second tour in Vietnam as a Company Commander with the 1st Cav Division. His widow raised 3 young children who grew up without knowing their father. Think of all the other widows and children who have equally experienced this devastating loss through all the wars this nation has experienced to keep us free plus the mothers, fathers and siblings.
We honor those brave Americans on Memorial Day again this year while we are engaged in two major theaters of combat. We must never forget them and I pray that all Americans will take the time out on Monday at 3 P.M. to remember them with a moment of silence. Freedom is not free! God bless this great nation and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free and those who will!
Lt.Gen. Thomas G. McInerney is retired from the Air Force. He is a Fox News military analyst.
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General McInerney is the founder of Government Reform Through Technology, a consulting firm that works with high-tech companies. GRTT conducts business with federal, state, city and local governments to help them introduce advanced technology into the public sector.