A distinguished military figure shared some insight on Monday's Memorial Day holiday about what a decade of military action has meant to the men and women serving in today’s armed forces. UPR’s Matt Jensen reports.
American flags fly at half-staff today in memory of U.S. servicemen and women who died while in service to their country. Utah cities and towns marked the occasion with Memorial Day services at churches and parks. In Cache Valley, residents gathered for a solemn patriotic service at the North Logan City Cemetery - a plot with a majestic view of the snow-capped Wellsville Mountains.
Speakers included Retired Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet - a distinguished member of the armed forces who has led thousands of Utah soldiers and airmen through conflicts in the Middle East, and through natural disasters here at home. He spoke about American military involvement in the last decade and encouraged Utahns to be more civically engaged.
"What can we do here today to honor these veterans?" He asked. "We can bring flags, we can bring flowers, and that's noteworthy. But what we can do is as a people understand that government is not a distant entity that has its own source of income. It comes from us, we're the tax payers. We are the government. It is our duty to cherish and participate in the voting process. It's shameful only half of us vote."
Tarbet also spoke about the evolution of the Memorial Day holiday and how American sentiment about the military has changed.
"Memorial day has become funny over the years," he added. "It's another three-day weekend to go camping or an occasion for automobile sales. It had its beginning after the Civil War. Just think of all these great young people in uniform today. Every one of them has been watching coffins come off planes now for 11 or 12 years. Yet they join the military ranks in unprecedented numbers."
Memorial Day falls each year on the last Monday in May. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the holiday is meant to remember men and woman who died in military service. Veterans Day, on the other hand, is set aside to thank and honor those who have or are serving honorably in the military during war or peacetime. That holiday falls on November 11. For Utah Public Radio, I’m Matt Jensen.