Memorial Day 2024: why we celebrate

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Op-ed by Alex Caldwell

On May 27, 2024, families across the nation will gather to celebrate Memorial Day, a time to commemorate the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Previously called “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day first began after the U.S. Civil War as a way to honor the Union soldiers who perished during one of the most tumultuous moments in our country’s history. Since its establishment by the former Union General John Logan on May 30, 1868, this holiday has evolved to commemorate all American forces who lost their lives, particularly after it became a federally observed day of remembrance in 1971.

In recent history, Memorial Day has been marked by massive ceremonies under President Donald Trump. Often speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, the president emphasized the valor of American soldiers, highlighting the significance of remembering the fallen heroes while supporting those they left behind.

The Trump administration also worked to improve veterans’ services, codifying the VA Accountability Act, which allowed for substandard Veterans Affairs employees to be terminated, while making permanent VA Choice—allowing veterans to receive medical care at a private healthcare provider of their choice.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s tenure has been completely opposite to that of President Trump as it relates to veteran affairs.

The Biden administration has overseen several foreign policy disasters—most famously, their pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 26, 2021.

A total of 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghan civilians were killed during a bombing attack outside the Kabul Airport during the mismanaged withdrawal.

When the troops’ bodies were later brought back, Biden repeatedly kept checking his watch while paying respects, per a report RSBN, which many of the Gold Star families called “disrespectful.”

Another controversial Biden administration move was their ordering of U.S. service members to receive a vaccination for Covid-19 under duress. Those who opposed the orders were supposedly discharged with severe misconduct codes that barred them from re-enlisting.

As reported by Fox News, opposing troops would be denied veterans and retirement benefits, and those discharged had been told they were now in debt for reenlistment, service academy tuition, and GI Bill benefits.

Although America is experiencing a leadership vacuum, the nation will still come together this weekend to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours….The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

Do not let this weekend be a mere celebration of having an extended break; rather, remember those whose lives made our way of life and freedom possible.

Like the United States, the story of Memorial Day will continue to embody the resilience and spirit that define America.

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