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Memorial Day 2019 – Have We Lost The Real Meaning Behind This Day?

Arcadia Rotary’s 1,000 American flags will be on display at the 2019 Field of Honor. Don’t miss this chance to honor your loved one and the U.S.A. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Arcadia Field of Honor provides an opportunity to remember the meaning behind the holiday

By Terry Miller

In doing “extensive” research for this story, I was quick to consult with the digital librarian we all know as Google for information about Memorial Day and its importance. I was stunned to see the immediate search engine results: Where to go, where to eat, what to do etc. Or, how about where to take the best selfie at the World Trade Center in New York? I’m not kidding. NYC even has a permanent selfie stick at The World Trade Center just in case you don’t happen to have your smartphone handy.

Is this what we have become, just an inadequate attempt at having a day off without remembering what Memorial Day actually is about?

This U.S. federal holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. During WWII 15 million battle deaths were recorded worldwide and 45 million civilian deaths according to nationalww2museum.org.

The staggering loss of life during the Second World War exceeds any previous conflicts and the Greatest Generation of men and women who served and survived is dwindling each day.

The Vietnam War: 282, 000 allied military deaths. The Korean War: 36,774  U.S. troop deaths; World War One: 116, 516. Sadly the list goes on.

Memorial Day is a somber monument to all who lost their lives in war. By far the most costly war in terms of human life was World War II (1939–45), in which the total number of fatalities, including battle deaths and civilians of all countries, is estimated to have been 56.4 million, assuming 26.6 million Soviet fatalities and 7.8 million Chinese civilians were killed.

The earliest records of war date around 2,700 B.C. The ancient Sumerians carved battle records onto stone tablets [source: The Origins of War]. The conflict was between the Sumerians and the neighboring Elamites, who lived in what is now Iran.

At least 108 million people were killed in wars in the 20th century. Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.

On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a difference between the two holidays:

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is forever observed officially on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

This Memorial Day, the Arcadia Rotary Club and its members invite the community to share this special holiday as the Field of Honor is assembled in the City of Arcadia. Bob Harbicht and Arcadia Rotary spearheaded a unique project at Arcadia County Park which was installed for the first time three years ago. That inaugural event displayed 1,000 flags, which marked a corner of Arcadia County Park in an impressive show of patriotism just in time for Memorial Day.

Arcadia Field of Honor is a community-wide event designed to celebrate patriotism and honor those who have served our country and/or are special in our lives.

Proceeds support local Rotary charities and the veterans’ memorial in Arcadia.

Flags can be purchased for $50 each and will have a tag with a custom message (up to 25 words) of your choosing. Flags will be displayed at County Park on Santa Anita Avenue and Huntington Drive in Arcadia until May 27.

May 23, 2019

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Terry Miller


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