Although Memorial Day began as a ritualized celebration of decorating the graves of those lives lost in war, since World War I it has also been a day to remember those individuals, military and civilian, who have gone before us. One of the ways of remembering those who have passed before us is to celebrate those alive today who are working to make tomorrow a better place for those who come after us.
We might begin by celebrating those in the emergency response vocations of fire fighting and medical assistance. Just this week in Soldotna, a young couple were assisted by passing Good Samaritans who noticed their porch was on fire during the early morning hours and called the local 911 dispatch to have fire and medical personnel come to their assistance.
Although the porch, a boat and personal property were lost, the young couple and their neighbors were unharmed. The well-trained emergency medical services team did its job. Life was saved along with nearby apartments and commercial buildings. What might have taken on tragic proportions remained a minor incident.
We should always remember to celebrate the loving efforts of parents and grandparents to raise and protect children. Today's social dynamics have created a culture in America which puts children more at risk than possibly ever before. Those holding multiple jobs to feed and house children, those attending church services and school activities with children, those working overtime to pay for a college education for their children and those providing child care for children of others are but a few that should be celebrated.
We must never forget to celebrate the patriotic efforts of those past and present members of the United States military. The selfless work of individuals who are members of groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Eagles, the AmVets, the Elks, the American Legion, the Lions and the Masonic Order all exemplify and cherish the reality of blood shed and lives lost in maintaining American freedom and liberty. There is no better way to remember and respect our military than to join and support these organizations and their projects.
We should remember to celebrate the varied commercial interests and diverse individuals who pay taxes to provide all levels of government services. Those who align themselves with the Puritan work ethic of long hours and honest service contribute to making our economic base stronger, durable and just. Without each American individual and business voluntarily paying their taxes, economic depression and social stagnation will occur and America will fade into the ledger of the past.
As so, let us all celebrate Memorial Day in 2003. Let us respect the emergency services personnel who keep us safe from harm, the parents and grandparents who care for children, the organizations that remind us of the sacrifices by those in the military and the taxpayers who provide the economic base of "liberty and justice for all."
As we hear the words of "live for today," let us also remember that "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."
Dave Carey is the mayor of Soldotna and a teacher at Skyview High School.
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