My friend and current "American Club of Sweden" (link below) President, Gary Baker wrote some heartfelt and informative Memorial Day words that I received via email. His eloquence inspired me to write this article.
(http://www.amclubsweden.org/) - The American Club of Sweden
For an American in Sweden, we can sometimes forget the wonderful celebration of family, food and relaxation that Memorial Day affords us while living in the USA. I fondly remember many great weekends on the east and west coast during the end of May. One thing we should never forget is the sacrifice made by our men and women (current and deceased) in uniform and the huge sacrifice they have made in order to give Americans and those around the world a better life.
A little known fact about me is that I seriously considered a life in the military having received an appointment to the prestigious US Naval Academy. Many thought I was crazy not to take the opportunity although they respected my decision to have a more typical collegiate experience. Who knows how my life would have been had I decided to take the military route? From what I hear, it could have been just as good as it is now but I would surely be a much different person.
Let's all remember or say a prayer for our soldiers each Memorial Day if only for a tiny portion of our day. Enjoy Gary's words below.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
Today, May 31st, is a national holiday in the United States. For those who grew up in America, it may bring images of fallen soldiers from two World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War or the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the roots of Memorial Day date back to the days following the American Civil War when, in 1866, “Decoration Day” was officially enacted to mark the end of the War and to honor those who had died in its battles.
Perhaps there is no place that symbolizes the debt paid by American soldiers more than Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Created in 1864, it is the final home to some 300,000 fallen soldiers. Smaller memorials are found in communities throughout the US and, indeed, the world.
For Sweden, a country free of armed conflict for over 200 years, it can be difficult to understand America's patriotism, or how the United States perceives its role on the world's stage. The American ideal of “promoting peace through a strong defense” – illustrated by an eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other, in the Great Seal on the back of the $1 bill and elsewhere – may not always be fully appreciated.
While armed conflict can unite a nation’s people to a common cause, it can divide a country, as we saw during the Vietnam War, and as we now witness in respect to US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in America’s history, no war has ever divided our nation more than the American Civil War. It was this war that gave birth to what we celebrate today as Memorial Day.
Therefore, the Board of Directors of The American Club of Sweden asks you to join us in honoring those soldiers who have given their lives to defend the freedoms we enjoy and which we all too often take for granted.
With best regards,
Gary Baker, President
We can never forget the sacrifice of our American soldiers.