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Local speech honors 150 years of Memorial Day, 50th anniversary of Vietnam

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Every Memorial Day in Morgan, presentations are given at different dedicatory sites. All the services this year were beautifully performed, but one address in particular stood out and The Morgan County News was given permission to share it here.

The talk was given by Royal D. Lamb as follows:

It is a humbling experience to stand before you this day.  To all present, I welcome you.  I especially want to welcome all the veterans that are here with us today.  Remember that it is because of these brave men and women that we are able to assemble in freedom today.  I am proud to be able to represent each and every veteran on such a great occasion.

I served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 with the 25th Infantry, ¾ Calvary, Headquarters.

I would like to address my remarks in three sections, (1) How Memorial Day became to be. (2) A very special 50th anniversary.  (3) Some very sobering statistics.

May 2016 marks 150 years of honoring Memorial Day. It is especially an ideal time to remember all the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice over the past 241 years.

Since the time when Robert Monroe was killed by the British at Lexington on April 19, 1775, and the last soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2016, some 1.2 million Americans have sacrificed their lives in wartime.  That deserves remembering, and that is what Memorial Day is all about.

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day from the custom of decorating graves with flowers, started simultaneously in both North and South after the end of the Civil War in 1866.  This launched a noble tradition carried on ever since.

It was solidified nationwide after John A Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued his now-famous proclamation designating May 30, 1868, the day for collectively remembering Union Civil War dead.

As we all know, Memorial Day evolved by the turn of the 19th century to include the dead of all wars and not just those of the big-name wars, but of every seemingly obscure overseas campaign.

It matters not whether the death occurred at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, or in the Korea DMZ, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.  What bears repeating here is that this special holiday calls for honoring only the wartime loss of lives in uniform.

Somehow or another—in some people’s minds—Memorial Day has come to symbolize a time to remember anyone who died under any circumstance.  This notion is an unfortunate distortion of the true meaning of the day set aside for those who died serving their country.  While well meaning, the gesture of decorating the graves of loved ones who passed away, this day was specifically set aside for honoring only wartime loss of lives in uniform.

Each passing year, the significance of Memorial Day fades in the public mind.  But the memory of loved ones killed in war never subsides in the lives of family members and close friends.  The day was intended for all Americans to share, at least symbolically, in a collective form of grief.

We are here today to honor those who served in any military action.

There is one war that we honor a 50th year anniversary.  That is the Vietnam War.  2016 marks the 50th anniversary of that great war.  To all those Vietnam veterans, we give a hardy deserved “Welcome Home.”

I would like to take a moment, if I may…. to provide some facts about the Vietnam War that you will find very sobering.  Keep in mind that this is not to take away those who were killed in any other war or conflict, but to draw attention to those who provided an “ultimate sacrifice” that we remember 50 years ago today in the country of Vietnam:

58,267 persons we killed during this war and of those killed, 39,996 were just 22 years old or younger; 8,283 were 19 years old; 33,103 were 18 years old; 12 were 17 years old; five were just 16 years old; eight women were killed (nurses). There were three sets of fathers and sons killed in action (KIA); 31 sets of parents lost two of their sons.

If you do not remember any of these statistics, I want you to member these last three:  997 were killed on their first day (boots on the ground in country); 1,448 were killed on their last day (boots on the ground in country); and 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor, 153 of whom were KIA.

This should help put sacrifice of life into perspective.

There will come a time when the sacrifice of this great war will fade.  Let us not allow those who made the ultimate sacrifices to go unremembered.  Let us remember those that were killed, tortured and wounded physically and mentally so that their sacrifice may not have been made in vain.

God bless this wonderful land we live in.  Remember that it is the “HOME OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”

Thank you all, and to you who have lost loved ones in the cause of freedom, I salute you…GOD BLESS AMERICA!

 

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