Memorial Day: the holiday that was instituted to honor Anheuser-Busch, the Miller Brewing Company and Kingsford charcoal. We celebrate this event with backyard barbeques, new-car “Sales-paloozas” and an extra day of workplace non-productivity.
Well, at least that’s been the main focus ever since the National Bureau of Irrelevance changed the traditional Memorial Day date from May 30th to the last Monday in May, creating yet another 3-day mini-vacation for the masses. Top that off with a public school curriculum that teaches American children more about the origins and meanings of Cinco de Mayo and Gay Pride Week than about Memorial Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day and it’s no wonder our nation is awash with addlepated twits who think Omaha Beach is where Nebraskans go surfing. The good news, kids, is that there are a goodly number of Americans who do remember that Memorial Day is more than just the kickoff to the summer vacation season; it is a day set aside to remember and honor those brave and patriotic souls who gave their lives in service to their nation and their fellow countrymen. One such group of American patriots is the Vietnam Vets MC, whose Southern Nevada chapter organizes an annual Memorial Day parade of motorcycles across the Hoover Dam.
By 9 o’clock bikers began assembling at one of the overlooks on the Arizona side of the dam. There appeared to me to be around 200 to 300 bikes gathered (I’m notoriously poor at estimating attendance figures.
I’ve tried counting wheels and dividing by 2, but there’s always at least one smart guy on a trike that screws up my math). As the 10 AM starting time neared, traffic was blocked off in both directions and the parade’s Color Guard assembled behind the police escort in preparation of the crossing. Lights began flashing on the escort vehicles and one by one the riders fell in line as the parade moved out, winding down the road and across the bridge until there was just one continuous stream of motorcycles stretching from Arizona to Nevada.
A stirring sight that elicited applause and shouts of approval from the spectators along the route. Upon reaching the Nevada side, the parade then continued on to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City where ceremonies were held honoring our fallen patriots. Particular honor was given in a ceremony for Special Forces soldiers who have given their lives over the years to insure America’s freedoms. The Ballad of the Green Berets was played, followed by a number of retired Special Forces officers placing flowers and small American flags at the base of a Special Forces memorial.
Prayer was given and speeches were made, but mostly those present simply stood in silent reflection of how the sacrifices made by those now lying beneath the small red, white and blue flags blooming throughout the cemetery have made it possible to enjoy our lives of freedom and plenty in this great land of ours.
When the ceremonies were over, I’m sure that many, if not most, of the participants went on to enjoy a cold beer, some barbeque, a dip in the pool, or a shopping spree at the mall. That’s good. The men and women populating our veterans cemeteries would not want us to spend Memorial Day in mourning, clad in sackcloth and ashes. That’s not what they gave their lives for. They would want us to enjoy our freedoms to the max. But we need to remember that Freedom is bought and paid for with the blood of patriots, and it always has been. We need to remember this not only on Memorial Day, or Independence Day, or Veterans Day, but each and every day.
To all of our brave fighting men and women, past and present, living and dead: Thank you. God bless you.