With time, memories grow hazy, less tangible, less appreciable. Events fade into passages for our history books, rather than tales told on the front pages.
On Memorial Days past, World War II often permeated the tributes. It was all about the Greatest Generation, why its members fought, how they fought, how they died. But as we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day next month, fewer veterans of World War II remain to tell their stories, so it’s harder to learn directly from those who served so long ago.
Yet learn we must. Then, allied nations came together for a common good. Today, that might seem like an impossible feat from a bygone era. But on this Memorial Day, we should take a moment to look beyond disparate politics to recall the ideals and freedoms for which so many sacrificed their lives, and to recall the honor and respect with which we then treated those who did come home.
Memorial Day is not just about history. Just last month, NYC lost one of its own when Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, a 43-year-old FDNY firefighter, was killed by a roadside bomb outside his base in Afghanistan. He was the father of three.
It’s easy to forget that people are still going off to war when there is indifference to the cause. Yet, they continue to die. Those who have served often are ignored, and those who come home often find themselves with financial hardship and psychological strain, without the resources or attention they need and deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs and their communities.
Our memories, tributes and attention must stretch to encompass all of the members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard who have died for our country — and those who continue to struggle. On this Memorial Day, let’s recall and honor those from every generation who lost their lives in the horrors of war, and recommit to assisting veterans of all ages with dignity. Perhaps then, the lessons of the past and present will remain front and center so we can teach future generations to remember, too.