Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day on U.S. Army Base

The meaning of Memorial Day is something that really strikes a cord in me. Today is a great day to share my story of a trip my brother and I recently took to an American cemetery.

It was in Luxemburg, the country just bordering Germany, about an hour away. Over 5,000 Americans are buried there, the majority from WWII, including General Patton. It was moving, to say the least.

Just take a look at the caption on this headstone:

If you can try to read the headstone, it says: "Here rests in honored glory a comrade in  arms, known but to God"

Various sites just like these were strewn throughout the site. This is a view of what it looks like as you walk through the path, weaving in and out of the graves:

Of course, its not possible to paint a picture for you of how moving this place was.

The American flag you see in each picture is my own that I brought with me. I still have it, and in fact, I am proud that the flag even got to touch the headstone of these heroes. Take a look at the gravesite of William D. Magee:

Notice anything amazing??

William received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration. There have only been awarded 861 since the beginning of WWII.

                                                            Private William McGee

How he got it the Medal of Honor:

Near Mulheim, Germany, he voluntarily walked into a minefield to aid two comrades who had been wounded by anti-personnel mines. After carrying one man to safety, he returned to rescue the second man but stepped on a mine and was himself seriously wounded. He ordered his fellow soldiers to stay out of the minefield and not risk their safety by trying to rescue him; McGee died of his injuries the next day. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on February 26, 1946.

Its thousands of stories like these that make me proud to be an American on this Memorial Day.


The best part of the day

Something beautiful happened that day, too. As I got done walking through the gravesites, I saw an American family standing among the headstones.

A dad had his son in his arms, and was pointing to a grave, explaining to him what each grave meant, why there were so many, and what their sacrifice means. As the boy asked more questions, you could see something developing. As I moved closer, I realized that the best part was that - the kid got it.

 Explaining things to a curious child is amazing. And on that day, the kid learned what it was to be to be an American. I will never forget that.