"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..Not to Morn but to Praise…..

Driving by Hunter Airfield Base earlier this week, I slowed along the road to watch a hulking C-17 landing on the airfield. I recalled a funeral I attended in 2012 for fallen Army Ranger, Sgt. Tanner Higgins. To say that attending the ceremony was humbling, and an honor and a privilege, would be an understatement. Chills ran through my body as the 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment stood ram-rod straight in stifling Georgian humidity for roll call. Each soldier confirming their presence loudly and clearly to their first sergeant, as each of their names were called. Sgt. Tanner was the last name called. The Regiment responded in unison with crisp salutes. Tears flowed openly as his name was called for the last time in an honored tradition and conviction held by the Rangers that all unit members will be accounted for, and that none will ever be forgotten. Today’s M5T reflects on Memorial Day, a day in which America honors and remembers those military men and women who gave their lives defending this country.

1. The Beginning

In April 1866, women in Columbus, Mississippi laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Early in May 1968, Major General John A. Logan issued a general order that May 30, 1868 should be an official day “for the purposes of strewing flowers and otherwise decorating the graves of our comrades who died in the defense of their country,” and he expressed hope that the day would be “kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.” That same day in 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Civil War General, and future president, James A. Garfield spoke, and said, “I am oppressed with a sense of impropriety of uttering words on this occasion.”

2. Guarding Flags

Since the late 1950s, over 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place flags at each grave site at Arlington National Cemetery. There are over 300,000 graves and more than 400,000 people buried at Arlington. The Infantry patrols 24 hours a day over the weekend to protect the flags.

3. Rolling Thunder

On Memorial Day weekend in 1988, 2,500 motorcyclists rode into Washington D.C. as a way to bring attention to the U.S. that soldiers were still missing in action for the 15 years since the Vietnam War had “ended” in 1973. Since that first "Rolling Thunder" ride in 1988, the roads over Memorial Day weekend in D.C. have roared with over 500,000 motorcyclists participating in what organizers call a demonstration not a parade. 2019 will mark the final Rolling Thunder ride into the nation’s capital.

4. One Minute

In 2000, the U.S. Congress established the "National Moment of Remembrance," asking Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. in a show of national unity. The hour of 3:00 p.m. was chosen as “it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.” There should be no guilt in celebrations, grilling and other sundry activities that take place on this day. Our liberty today rests on the very backs of men and women who fought and died for our way of life.

5. Schuyler Colfax

The 17th vice president of these great United States from 1869 to 1873, said these profound words about those that have died in battle protecting America: “These martyrs of patriotism gave their lives for an idea.”

Here’s to a week of remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the idea of America, and for our freedoms that we so often take for granted.

© 2019 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com. Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com