By Mike Parks, RADM, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region
Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family: This weekend we will commemorate Memorial Day—the last official observance during Military Appreciation Month. Six days ago we observed Armed Forces Day (May 19th) when we recognized all those who have, or are serving, in our Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard). This day of commemoration began in 1949 when President Truman proclaimed it would be observed on the third Saturday in May.
We also recognize military spouses’ incredible impact to our lives and communities during this month on Military Spouse Appreciation Day which is observed on the Friday in May right before Mother’s Day ever since President Reagan proclaimed it so in 1984.
As we prepare to recognize Memorial Day, which is often associated with the unofficial start of summer (especially for boaters and anglers on the shores of Lake Erie), we should remember that Memorial Day honors those almost 1.2 million servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our great nation. The last Monday in May is set aside for our nation to Honor, Remember, and Never Forget the fallen and their sacrifice.
So as we put burgers on the BBQ in our backyards this weekend, take in some baseball, basketball, or boating, let us not forget why we have this long weekend. We’re fortunate to live in a part of the country where small town Memorial Day parades are everywhere—please take one in—stand and place your hand over your heart when “Old Glory” passes by—thank a veteran for their service—simply put, remember and honor the sacrifice that has paid, and continues to pay, for our freedom! As members of the American Red Cross—we’re privileged to serve in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that has a long history of serving our Armed Forces of this world’s greatest nation—an organization that has it’s very roots in the battlefield. Thank you for what you do and for Honoring, Remembering, and Never Forgetting! God bless the United States of America.
Yours in service,