CHESTER, Vt. – Each year, Richard Farmer from the Chester Branch of the American Legion comes in and speaks to Green Mountain’s seventh grade students about Memorial Day. Usually this is done in-person, but because of Covid-19 restrictions, this year it was done over Zoom.
After students learn about how the holiday began and what it represents, they are then asked to write an essay titled, “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” Students vote on whose essay best embodies the title, and this year’s winning essay winner is Miles W. Glidden of Proctorsville, Vt. His essay is below.
What Memorial Day Means to Me
When most people think of Memorial Day, they think of a three-day weekend or a day to have a barbecue, and not about the courageous and valiant men and women who put themselves into the living hell that is war in order to preserve our way of life and to insure that future generations prosper. In the darkest times of our history, these men and women stepped forward to make the ultimate sacrifice for all of the people currently living in the mighty United States of America.
Many of my family members have been in the Military, my great uncle in Vietnam, another uncle who was in the Guards in the late ’70s, as well as others. I remember hearing my great uncle talk about some of the things he did while in the Military and some of the hardships that he faced in day-to-day life on base or in the field. He spoke of the great friendships that he made and how war is a barbaric thing that should not have to be done, but it is essential to make sure peace is a possibility. The things that I have heard have made me question multiple times the meaning of war and why we do it, but what is certain to me is that while all of the people in the Military are completely different, they all have one thing in common: the willingness to fight for their country no matter the risks and the sacrifices that they will have to make and are willing to make.
If you think about it, the first breath you took was only possible because thousands and thousands of courageous men and women died for you. They died to keep our way of life preserved, they died so that the next generations could have a better life than they did, they died for you and your mother, father, and siblings, they died for all of the people in your family and country. They fought for all of us living today and some of them are still fighting at this very moment. No matter if you chose to think about it or not, at least one person died so that you could live your life the way you want to.
When I walk in the Memorial Day parade, I walk with my head high and show as much respect as possible for the fallen men and women who died in the line of duty, for the soldiers who never got to see their family again, for the bravest and most courageous men and women to ever step foot in this fair country of the United States of America. The land of the free. The land that broke away from the British, survived the Civil War, came to the rescue of Western Europe twice. The land that in almost every conflict that it faced has emerged battered and bloody but victorious because of the men and women who gave their country their all and their lives for the greater good. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II, said that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” All of the men and women who have fought and are fighting have or have had that courage to continue to fight for their country and for all of the people that they know and love.
The next time it is Memorial Day, please think about the men and women who risked it all for you and for everyone you know and love. I’ll leave off with a verse from a song by Toby Keith titled “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.”
“My dad served in the Army / Where he lost his right eye, but he flew a flag out in our yard/ Until the day that he died / He wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me / To grow up and live happy / In the land of the free.”