Memorial Day: Reflection or recreation?

Taps, gun salutes and the National Anthem are ways many honor the fallen on Memorial Day.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Augusta-CSRA Memorial Observance, held downtown at the All Wars Monument, honored veterans from all wars and those associated military support organizations.  But others chose to celebrate the day with a cookout or a trip to the lake.  The quiet reflections mixed with gun salutes and presentations of colors are all solemn reminders of lives lost during battle.  Though many Americans celebrate, the veterans we spoke with say that’s OK, just don’t forget the day’s true meaning.

“I wouldn’t be standing here on the street talking if it wasn’t a day that we should honor those who died,” said Ret. Sgt. Major Ed Trimble, a Vietnam veteran.

We spoke with Trimble about events such as cookouts being the thing to do on Memorial Day during the city’s annual observance.

Each year, Augusta and the CSRA gathers on Broad Street at the All Wars Monument to watch the posting of the American flag, a military salute, and hear The Star Spangled Banner.

U.S. Congressman Rick Allen, of Georgia’s 12th District weighed in on the importance of the day.

“Our forefathers established something here in this country, frankly, that is the envy of the world. Then you have these brave men and women who exhibit the greatest love of all.”

But some Americans trade in those ceremonies honoring brave men and women who died for time off doing recreation. Some vets said that’s alright with them.

Trimble served in Vietnam between 1966 and 1967 working on computers and helping get supplies into the country.  He agreed that the day is indeed a day to celebrate.

“I left the lake early so I could be here,” he said.  “A lot of our friends and buddies we left in Vietnam.”

Fort Gordon Commanding General Major General John Morrison gave remarks during the event. He said the words “Veterans, Happy Memorial Day” is not what the day is about.

“To those who have seen the horrors of combat. To those who have seen their brothers and sisters in arms manned or killed. Today is a most sacred day,” he stated.

And for others veterans, it simply means never forgetting a time where going to battle and dying meant life for others.

Richard Craig, who served in World War II between 1943 and 1946, also told us to celebrate, but don’t forget.

“It’s a good day to celebrate the lives of our departed comrades. We should have more of them. We should never forget,” he told us.

The event included a special announcement. A new Vietnam War Memorial will go up southeast of the All Wars Monument and the Korean War Monument on Broad Street by Labor Day 2018.

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