Kemejuk's Korner

Memorial Day 2004

Memorial Day 2004 Three news items this month remind us that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all generations, honoring those who were willing to put their very lives on the line when their country needed them most.

In early May, Clifford Holliday died in Southern California. Mr. Holliday, an American citizen who was born in Manitoba, Canada, joined the “Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders”, and was wounded in battle at the tender age of 16. His death at 105 is especially notable, because he had been Canada’s last surviving veteran of the “Great War”, World War I.

This weekend, the long-awaited World War II Memorial will open in Washington, D.C. Fortunately for some, too late for most, the controversial monument will honor the more than 16 million Americans who fought in that war. Only 4 million still survive, and they are dying at a rate of over 1,000 every day. Sadly, most of those survivors are eighty or older, and most likely will never be healthy enough or have a chance to make the trip to see it.

This week in South Korea, the remains of 19 American soldiers were turned over to the U.S. Military for their final journey home, after more than a half-century buried overseas in shallow graves. The soldiers lost their lives in battle in the frigid winter of 1950, in what is now North Korea.

Every generation has veterans to memorialize. Whether it was 58,000 who gave their lives in Viet Nam, or 70,000 who died in the Battle of the Bulge alone, or over 700 who have died so far in Iraq, we owe our freedom and peaceful existence to all of them.

Some time this Memorial Day weekend, think of someone in your life who served their country to the fullest. We all know one, someone who paid with their life so that we may enjoy ours. Happy Memorial Day 2004.

Jack Kemejuk USS Oklahoma City 1968-74