The meaning of Memorial Day

Dear Editor:

Recent political maneuverings have caused tensions between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, to increase. Despite recent diplomatic advancements between the allies, the United States and the Republic of South Korea, and North Korea, the rogue nation north of the 38th parallel maintains a belligerent posture.

The Demilitarized Zone – the “DMZ” – separating North and South Korea allows one to fully comprehend the true meaning of Memorial Day. It reinforces the important lesson that the blessings of liberty come at a great cost.

The “DMZ,” the final frontier separating liberty from tyranny, serves as a grim reminder that the acrimonious flames of the Cold War have yet to be fully extinguished. An eerie, thunderous silence haunts the narrow strip of land that divides the prosperous south from its bellicose neighbor to the north.

On June 25, 1950, well equipped military forces from a Soviet-backed North Korea invaded the South. By that time, considering the events that had occurred in Europe, the Western World had become “Munichized.” Consequently, led by the United States, the Allied World responded to the North’s aggression. By the time the case fire was signed on July 27, 1953; some 40,000 U.S. Service Members had given their lives to defend and secure freedom on the Korean peninsula. Their ultimate sacrifice was not in vain!

South Korea stands as a living testimony to the sacrifices made during the Korean War. The Republic of Korea is a miraculous success story! Antiquated infrastructures have succumbed to modern technological developments. Parochial economic systems have acquiesced to expanding interest and active participation in international markets, to the extent that the Republic of Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world.

Monday, May 27, Memorial Day, is a time of – and for – solemnity to honor our distinguished fallen “heroes.” A “hero,” in this sense, is any member of the armed forces – Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman – valiantly executing his (or her) duties. Over the years, Memorial Day has become the “unofficial” beginning of the summer season. As such, we have corrupted this day of reverence into a time for fun, joy, and laughter.

On this Memorial Day, we should remember the valuable lesson of the Korean War: Freedom is NEVER free. We should take some time to reflect on those brave individuals of the armed services who died so we – the people – can continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty and live in freedom.

John Di Genio