Memorial Day - is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end. (definition found here)
Many people mix up Memorial Day with Veteran's Day - and I sometimes get thanked for my service on Memorial Day. Now, the thought is nice - but I wanted to make sure people understood the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.
This is my great-Uncle Gerald. He was killed in action on 23 February, 1945 at Iwo Jima. Mom and I were lucky enough to borrow the letters he wrote to my great-grandparents and inside the box of letters was also the letter from his commander, the telegram of his death, a letter from the chaplain and a letter from his buddy.
Along with the letter from the chaplain he inserted a poem written by P1/Sgt. Michael Nuzzola, United States Marine Corp. (I may have gotten the rank wrong - the paper is starting to be hard to read)
At Iwo Jimas' Graves
Dear God, 'neath Iwo Jima's sky
I offer simple prayer,
For these Marines who buried lie,
Please give your special care.
No weaklings, for they all were men,
They stormed the creature in his lair;
And let the world know once again,
That the fighter did his share.
In fullest measure they have paid,
The price of liberty.
For theirs has been a great crusade,
To make the whole world free.
And guide those men, who peace will make,
Whose price of duty's not so high.
Be sure this time, there's no mistake,
On why, these men did die.
So, please remember those who have given their lives for our freedom to enjoy this holiday weekend.