Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Sobering facts and thoughts for Memorial Day

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

During the springtime, comes an observance that is highly important to the American public.

It is Memorial Day, a day designated basically to honor those who died for their country in military action of one of the nation’s conflicts. At the same time people choose to honor those who served, or could have been wounded in their service, or those who were among the more fortunate and came home unscathed.

There will be American Flags marking those graves of veterans in cemeteries throughout Barry County. Many of these flags are used from year to year, basically because of the expense. However, they should never be used if they become soaking wet or faded.

Another flag

There is another flag or pennant that should also be acknowledge on Memorial Day — one that is usually located in a front window of a home, which designates the household has a member or members of the family presently serving in the Armed Forces.

The red, white and blue colors are carried out throughout the display. There are two kinds of stars in the flag; blue for someone in the Armed Forces and Gold for a member of the family that did not make it back home from military action somewhere in the world. The displays deserve the “Thank you for serving,” that is commonly heard these days.

Modern era

During the last 60-65 years the numbers of servicemen making the supreme sacrifice carries a lot of other statistics that might amaze some people.

There has been something over 10,000 in the military who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, America’s longest wars. Those giving their lives do not give the full picture of the situation when considering those who have been crippled for the rest of their lives.

Not to be overlooked on Memorial Day, whenever the opportunity presents itself, would be the nearly 34,000 family members significantly affected by U.S. Military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there are the over 3,000 people who have lost a spouse, nearly 4,000 children who have lost a parent and just under 12,000 parents who have lost a child. Another figure of interest, just under 17,000 grandparents who have lost a grandchild and about 4,500 people who have lost a brother or sister, which makes those flags that designate a grave or a home as having military members in the family hold much significance.

The family

As difficult as anything for the military family to understand are a number of factors in relation to those represented by the display of flags circle in five different categories:

• 94 percent of military families believe the general public does not understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families.

• 77 percent of military families who believe the operational temp is the most important issue facing military families.

• 85 percent of military families are quite concerned about how the repeated deployments affect the children in military families.

• 81 percent of military families who are quite concerned about moral support for families of deployed service members.

• 79 percent of military families who are worried about post deployment family readjustments.

These same percentages could apply to whatever military action this country might have involved itself in over the past number of decades. These folks can be designated by the Grave Flags you will see Memorial Day or in a drive through of any neighborhood and making an effort to see the window designations.

Military funeral

During the heaviest part of a snowstorm several years ago, a decorated veteran of the Korean War was laid to rest in Maplewood Cemetery near Exeter. Billy Henry, a full-fledged Barry County native, served his country during this war in the Army. He served with distinction.

His life was filled with giving pleasure through his music to many people and those who came out to the family’s visitation and in the snow storm for graveside services were indicators that people do still care and will show their appreciation.

Providing the military honors under the wet conditions were the burial teams from Veterans of Foreign Wars in Monett. National Guard members did the traditional folding of the U.S. flag, which was presented to the family.

In such events as these, the firing squad that provides the last military type recognition of this veteran’s service and the sounding of taps, can only serve to make it more important as time goes by to keep the recognition going that shows those of the military just how important we think they are.

After all, these active and veteran members of our United States military are what make our country the greatest on earth.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.

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