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May 26th, 2008
10:20 AM ET

So which one is Memorial Day?

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Sgt. Jerome Bishop

Not long ago while I was sitting at my desk at work, a Soldier presented an interesting question, not because of what it was, but what made it interesting is why it was asked.

"So what's Memorial Day, again?" the Soldier asked.

This kind of disturbed me. As it turns out, the confusion came from the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. While both are federal holidays to remember our nation's servicemembers past and present, only one commemorates the living.

The one that doesn't is May 26, the last Monday in May. That one would be Memorial Day. I just never thought I'd have to explain that to someone.

When Memorial Day comes around, a lot of thoughts rush to mind. Memories of picnics with the family, maybe catching the Indianapolis 500 Indy car race with a cold beverage in hand or enjoying the sun at a nearby public pool that just opened for the summer – all of which are easily recognizable traits of Memorial Day. All the while, the true meaning of Memorial Day remains hidden in the back of our mind – if it's even there at all.

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Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
09:55 AM ET

My son, our last conversation, his lasting legacy...

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/25/art.jesse.strong.on.patrol.jpg caption="Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong."]

Vicki Strong
Proud Gold Star Mother of Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong, Killed in Action 1/26/05

Growing up as a young girl in a large suburban town in the 60's and 70's, I had no experience honoring Memorial Day as it should be recognized. I have no memories of being introduced to proud veterans who had served our country, and I had no knowledge of, or appreciation for, what my freedom had cost thousands of men and women throughout history.

How dramatically my life was changed when my son graduated from Marine Corps boot camp just two weeks before September 11, 2001, and I suddenly realized that our freedom is defended and protected by brave, proud, young soldiers like my Marine son. I was learning to not take for granted so many things about our lives that we as Americans don't even think about...our form of government, our freedom to worship, to shop, to be educated, to work, and live quiet peaceful lives in our own homes...

One week before the first Iraqi election in January of 2005 my son called us from Iraq to let us know that he would be busy securing the polls for their anticipated election day. It was our last conversation, as four days later headlights drove up our driveway in northern Vermont on a cold January night, and two solemn looking Marines got out and stood at our door. We knew instantly why they were there and what they had come to tell us.

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Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
09:50 AM ET

Thinking of Nick on Memorial Day... and every day

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Tracy Miller
Towson, MD
Mother of Nicholas L. Ziolkowski

Every year at this time I run the gamut of emotions. It’s Spring, the weather holds great promise, I see lush green when I look outside..

…then I think, every year, that the leaves are never fully on the trees until Nick’s birthday, April 21.

It’s not that I need a reminder like Memorial Day or Spring, even, to think about Nick. I thought about him and his brother every day when they were growing up.

But now that Nick (Cpl. Nicholas L. Ziolkowski, USMC) is dead—KIA, Fallujah 2004—those thoughts are tinged with sadness.

I thought, like so many of my generation, that after Vietnam we could not have another such war. I blame President Bush and his cronies for Nick’s death. I am angry, and I am frustrated.

How much longer can our country withstand the abuses perpetrated upon it by our government?
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Filed under: Memorial Day
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