A friend in the UK asked me what is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I replied that while both honor our veterans of past and present, Memorial Day is to recognize those who have died in service to our country.
Growing up, my Dad would take us downtown to Arlington Cemetary to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As a child, I kind of understood that it was a solemn place and that people had died for our country, but the true understanding only came with time.
I am blessed to still live near our Nation's Capital and will go downtown to visit throughout the year. The most poignant times however are when we go down for Memorial and Veterans Day. We usually go to the Vietnam Memorial first and then to the WWII Memorial. The emotions you feel not only from the speakers but from watching the soldiers greet each other, hug and in some cases watching their shared tears are sometimes overwhelming.
At the Vietnam Memorial, you will also find the Vietnam Women's Memorial. If you go to their site, it explains that is was established "...not only to honor those women who served, but also for the families who lost loved ones in the war, so they would know about the women who provided comfort, care, and a human touch for those who were suffering and dying. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated in 1993 as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial." It too is a very moving place and when you listen to the stories of the nurses who served it is very difficult to keep a dry eye.
If you are standing in the Lincoln Memorial and look down the reflecting pool, you will see the WWII Memorial. A lot of people were against it because they felt the placement was wrong, they didn't like the design, etc, but let me tell you it is beautiful. We took the kids down for the ground breaking ceremony and listened to the speeches and stories from the guests from Tom Hanks (actor) to actual Soldiers who recollected their time during the war. It took a few years, but once finished, it is a place where you can sit quietly and listen to the water flowing from the large fountain in the center.
Every time I have ever gone, I am reminded of all of the sacrifices that people have made to make out country great. It is a reminder that everything we have is thanks to those who came before us and to them we must be grateful.
If you have never been and are planning a trip to Washington, DC, please add them to your list of places to see.
Happy Memorial Day Everyone and a Thank you and God Bless to all of those who have worn and currently wear the uniform.