Hello everyone! It’s Madison – Miss Inland Empire – here again. When I signed up to write this blog I had a different topic in mind but after my Memorial Day weekend, I have decided to take my blog in a different direction. Hopefully you enjoy it!
I am no stranger to the sacrifices our military makes, I was born and raised in the United States of America and grew up with a Grandfather who served in the Air Force long before my time. I always understood why we should support and be proud of our military but when my Grandpa suddenly passed away, I was 6 years old, I was devastated. I, did however, find consolation in the memorial service my family held for him. He was buried in a National Cemetery and my grandmother received the American flag in remembrance of him and the dedication he had for his country. Even though my family history embraced serving in the military, I never really comprehended the magnitude of holidays such as Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and more recently Memorial Day.
This Memorial Day weekend, I spent the day at the Riverside National Cemetery where I experienced my first flag placing ceremony. Myself along with a couple thousand other people placed 186,000 flags – one on the tombstone of every hero who was laid to rest in that cemetery. About an hour into placing flags I found myself overcome with emotion, I was reading the names on every stone that I placed a flag and I couldn’t help but think about the family that soldier left behind to dedicate his life to his country. I can never pay back the sacrifices these soldiers make.
I have celebrated and honored 21 Memorial Days in my lifetime but I never truly understood exactly what we, as a country, were celebrating. Of course I knew it was to honor our fallen soldiers but now I see it as paying tribute to heroes. Heroes that gave everything so that I can wake up and go to school, or type this blog, or speak my mind without any form of persecution.
This was also the first Memorial Day where I was unable to contact some of my friends in the military (due to training/deployment) to thank them for their service. Having friends so close to me make such a massive sacrifice astonishes me. My friends in the Armed Forces are some of the most selfless people I am blessed to know. I am thankful that all my friends have, so far, come home but so many of their comrades have not. For the ones who do not come home I now understand that they would not want us to mourn but to live the dream they died fighting for.
So in closing, I want to thank Mary (the Flag Placing Ceremony coordinator) for allowing me to partake in such a humbling, beautiful, and wonderful experience. For everyone who has a friend or loved on in the service please call them, hug them, and most importantly thank them. For those of you who are mourning the loss of a hero, please know that they were not laid to rest in vain; but that I am thankful for their sacrifice everyday, and can only continue to honor the life they lived for it took an amazing person to give of themselves so selflessly, for what is truly the greatest nation in the world.
See you next time,
Miss Inland Empire 2015