Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Presentation

My blog buddy Jack commented that he would like to see the presentation I gave at the Memorial Day service today so that's what follows.

We are gathered here today not to celebrate Veterans Day, which honors those who served, or Armed
Forces Day, which honors active duty soldiers, but Memorial Day, which is to honor those who have died in service to our country.

In the beginning, it was called Decoration Day. I read where people who lived near Civil War battlefields would scatter flowers across the land where both Union and Confederate troops had died. The number of deaths in that conflict was staggering.

The bloodiest battle of that war was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where 50,000 men died are were gravely wounded. That’s close to the population of Walker County.

Communities across the North and South lost sons, fathers, and brothers and with them. Their hopes and dreams were forever lost.

As you know, the bloodshed didn’t end with the Civil War. Our country has been engaged in conflict many times over the course of history. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan all of which came with a hefty price tag paid with the blood of men and women who signed up to serve our country.

Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day and in the 20th century grew to honor all men and women who died in service to our nation. We observe the federal holiday on the last Monday of May.

It’s hard to find a family that has not been touched by war. If you walk through most any cemetery in any community, you will find military markers with dates that match wars and conflicts.

When my mom was still living, there were pictures in her family album of her baby brother Marvin Lee Ferguson. He was a carefree kid seeing the world from the deck of the USS California, which was a Navy battleship.

He was in the Pacific in 1941 about to celebrate Christmas in Hawaii, but on December 7 of that year, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In less than two hours, 2500 people had died, one of which was Uncle Marvin Lee, who died before WWII officially began.

He was the first person from Walker County killed. The local VFW hall is named his honor.

I have his picture on the wall of my office I often wonder what kind of man he would have become had he not died on that sunny Sunday in Hawaii.

These days, Memorial Day is recognized as the first holiday of summer and people spend the day eating Bar-B-Que, drinking sweet tea, and preparing for upcoming summer vacations.

On this Memorial Day, I am thankful for the opportunity to live in this country. Where we have the freedom to travel anywhere we want and the freedom to celebrate with our family and friends.  But we should NEVER forget those who picked up the tab.


  1. Excellent presentation Rick, in which you address many of the issues relevant to your Memorial Day.

    Ms Soup

  2. Very. VERY well said. wish I could have heard it. But as usual you paint a picture with words. I also love the insight into your family. Now I know someone who was kin so someone who perished at 'PEARL HARBOR'. I knew someone who was there and survived, now I know a family on the other side of the coin. WEll done my friend, I am sure there were tears. Thoughts of the war dead SHOULD bring them. I am very glad you published this.

  3. PS: My heart still goes out to the memory of Marvin Lee, and the over 2,000 of his shipmates and peers.

  4. Anonymous10:51 PM

    I hope we NEVER forget those brave men & women!!

  5. Bravo. I know Memorial Day is to honor fallen service men like my brother but I also honor all of the Veterans who are no longer with us. My father and another brother are among those. I miss all three every day. Memorial Day I take special time to allow myself to mourn and then be extremely proud.

  6. This is well said! May we never forget.

  7. Rick, this is so well written, we all need to remember to be grateful to those who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free... xox

  8. We do owe so much to so many for the wonderful freedoms we enjoy. Well Done !

  9. I'm so grateful for all that served and your talk was really perfect and hit the mark for this special day. I'm sorry you lost an Uncle and never had the opportunity to get to know him. The fact he died for his country and was serving in the Navy says so much about his character and bravery during that time. He may not have lived a long life but I think he lived a full one. Thanks for sharing your speech with us!

  10. I loved what you wrote here. My dad fought in WW2 and was part of the liberation of Holland (he was Canadian. He was wounded just before the end of the war and he died with part of the bullet still in him. My mom, being German, survived the horrors of war and was 17 when the War ended. She lost 2 brothers, my uncles, one was only 14 months who died in my grandmother's arms and the other was 19. I always wondered how they would have grown up and become but it was not meant to be. We must never forget

  11. Perfectly put, Rick. To Marvin Lee and all his brothers. ... May their example be a lesson to us all.

  12. Good job. Succinct and full of meaning. My compliments and admiration.

  13. A touching tribute. Thank you for sharing. Sheila


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