Today is Memorial Day. In the past, it was called Decoration Day, because it was a day to remember and decorate the graves of those soldiers who gave their lives for our country. It was also a day where people visited other graves of their ancestors as well, and laid wreaths, flowers, and gave other tributes.
My ancestors have been in this country since 1886 at the earliest, as far as I know, with the arrival of my grandfather at the ripe old age of 6! Other ancestors came later, some as late as the the first decade of the 1900s. I am not sure if any of them served in World War I. None that I recall. But a number of them have served in the armed forces since, including service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. I am proud, very proud, of all my ancestors and relatives who’ve served in the armed forces. My father is a veteran of the Korean Conflict. One uncle served in Vietnam, another in the Navy in World War II, another uncle in the Pacific–he’s a survivor of some of the most brutal fighting ever and never talks about it. An aunt served in World War II. And others have served in “peacetime,” too.
My great uncle, Andrew Szczech, gave his life for our country in Normandy, France, in 1944. He was 23.
Today I remember all those brave people decendants of some poor Polish immigrants who came to this country seeking a better place for their families. They found it. And some have paid the price for the great freedoms we enjoy. And perhaps in the future, others will pay that same price, all to ensure our freedom. I hope we never take it for granted.