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Tributes and Memorials

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Give Thanks on Veterans Day
Honoring Our Loved Ones on Memorial Day
September 11 Tribute
Space Shuttle Columbia Tribute
To Remember Me - a poem by Robert N. Test

GIVE THANKS ON VETERANS DAY

When we think of November holidays, chances are Thanksgiving springs to mind first. But the first November holiday we celebrate in America is Veterans Day on November 11, which is our day to give thanks to the men and women who have served in the military. This Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices veterans have made and thank a veteran in your community.

A History – Celebration and Tribute
Veteran’s Day, originally called Armistice Day, began November 11, 1919. President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the first anniversary of the end of World War I (which ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918). He paid tribute to Allied soldiers who lost their lives in "the war to end all wars." November 11 became a holiday, under different names, in the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and Canada.

In 1954, the holiday became known as Veterans Day in America to honor American veterans, living and dead, who served honorably in the military during war or peace. According to the Veterans Administration, there are 25 million living veterans. Veterans Day reminds us to thank them for their service while they are living, and to celebrate the freedoms they have protected.

In addition to expressing our appreciation to living veterans, Americans pay tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms. The official national ceremony for Veterans Day is held each Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Color guards from all U.S. military services "Present Arms" at the tomb, a presidential wreath is laid and a bugler plays "Taps."

What You Can Do
Korean and Vietnam War veteran Robert W. Skelton, Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army (Retired) of Lynn Haven, FL says, "I was honored to serve my country with distinction as did my father, brothers and uncles before me. The sense of pride in all veterans is tantamount to the preservation of our freedoms and way of life. Thank a veteran every day, not just on Veterans Day." Here are some ways you can say "thanks."

  • Simply say "thank you" to someone who has served
  • Attend a Veterans Day parade or public ceremony
  • Fly an American flag
  • Donate time or money to a veteran’s organization
  • Write a letter or poem expressing your gratitude. Ask the editor of your local paper to publish it
  • Send a card, letter or care package to someone who is serving our country away from home
  • Learn more about America’s military history by reading a nonfiction book or asking veterans to share their experiences
  • If you’re a veteran, share your experiences with someone. The Veteran’s History Project, administered by the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, is collecting and preserving audio and videotaped oral histories, letters, diaries, maps, photographs, home movies and other documentary materials of American veterans and those who’ve worked in support of them.

Learn More
Here are some websites where you can learn more or look for other ideas on honoring veterans in your community:


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HONORING OUR LOVED ONES ON MEMORIAL DAY

On May 31, 2004, our nation will celebrate Memorial Day with parades and picnics, fireworks and friends. As with other holidays, many lose sight of the meaning of the special day and consider it to simply be a day off work or school or merely the unofficial beginning of summer.

This year, consider what you and your family can do to celebrate the holiday by truly memorializing departed family and friends. Share in the tradition of this important national holiday, a tradition that dates back to the U.S. Civil War.

A Brief History
Historians debate the first observance of a Memorial Day. Some claim the practice of honoring war dead began in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Others say the tradition began when women in Virginia decorated the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers at the end of the Civil War. In 1868, a Union General declared May 30 as a day to honor fallen Union soldiers, yet the U.S. government officially recognizes the birthplace of Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day) as Waterloo, New York, when Civil War veterans were honored at a ceremony in 1865.

The practice of decorating gravesites endured throughout the 20th century. Since the 1950s, small American flags have been placed at the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery, with troops standing guard the entire weekend to ensure the flags remain standing.

What You Can Do?
As a national holiday, Memorial Day serves to remember and honor those that lost their life defending their country. And there are many ways to celebrate this holiday today, remembering those who served our country in the military, but also remembering and honoring all departed friends and family. Here are some ideas.

  • Visit local cemeteries and place flags or flowers over the graves of departed friends or family members.
  • Visit or research memorial sites in the community.
  • Fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon.
  • Participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance,” at 3 p.m. to pause and reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.


Of course May 27th should be a day of celebration, relaxation, and spending time with our families. But among the picnics and parades, take time to reflect upon the history and meaning of this Memorial Day.

For additional online resources on the history and celebrations of Memorial Day, check out these sites:


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SEPTEMBER 11 TRIBUTE

Who are your heroes? As the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack approaches, we invite you to share your thoughts with the people in our community who dedicate their lives to preserving our safety and wellbeing.

Take time to say “thank you” today. Complete an entry in our guestbook below and we will pass along your comments and thanks to our local heroes that help make a difference here every day.

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SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA TRIBUTE

Seven ordinary people, possessed of extraordinary skill, courage, and determination. Led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and desire to understand.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the seven bold explorers who took to the skies aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. May God comfort and bless those families, and may God bless America.

For more information about Columbia, visit the following links:


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TO REMEMBER ME - A poem by Robert N. Test

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face, or love in the eyes of a woman.

Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil.

Give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

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