Memorial Day is a reminder to be thankful and gracious

There are 86 names of Wilton’s natives who have made the supreme sacrifice in all of America’s wars, except for the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War.

They are listed on the Veterans Memorial in Wilton Center, and many of those names should be familiar to all of the residents of our town of Wilton. From Josiah Canfield to Nicholas Madaras, these are the men who gave up their future, so you and I might have ours.

So, Memorial Day is not a day of celebration, parade or not.

It is a remembrance of all of the men and women who have passed on and sacrificed their lives.

The veterans of American Legion Post 86 here in Wilton Center understand this better than most others, from those who lived through the horrors of war and those who had the fortune to be asked to support those combat veterans.

When you are out and about, with the pandemic restrictions starting to end after 15 months of isolation or at least limited interaction with family and friends, all my comrades and I at James B. Whipple American Legion Post 86 in Wilton Center ask each and every person throughout our great nation to stop and thank a veteran. Whether it is someone in your family, a neighbor or a friend, or that man or woman wearing their military branch, war or other clothing item identifying them as a vet, look them in the eye, bump a fist or elbow with them, or if you are able to do so safely, shake their hand.

Many of these veterans, especially Korean and Vietnam War veterans, never received just recognition for their service. It is time for us all to make up for lost time.

I am still awed by those veterans and what they all did for us. Even being a veteran myself, I always ask about their service and I believe that you should do the same.

If they want to talk about it, they will. If they don’t my reply is always the same: “Thank you for all that you have done for me, my family and my friends”.

These men and women that we remember Monday, May 31 this year are owed a debt of grattitude so great that we will never truly be able to repay them. But, we can still show graciousness.

So, our duty is to remember them, to take a few minutes that day to say a prayer that we acknowledge this debt, that we do whatever we can to pay it down. Because their sacrifice was forever, so is our debt to them and our efforts to continuously pay it forward.

I leave you with part of General John A. Logan’s orders, establishing Memorial Day, May 5, 1868:

“…let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us, in this solemn presence, renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us, as sacred charges upon the nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”