Remembering Memorial Day

Memorial Day exists to honor and remember those who died in service to our country. I find it odd to be wished a Happy Memorial Day and frustrating that for many the day is about cookouts, sales and summer.

While life is for the living, it wouldn’t hurt us to contemplate the sacrifices made by so many who came before us. Last night, when I was considering what to write today, I found these images on my phone. They’re from Mound Cemetery in Marietta and I couldn’t resist googling the young man to learn his story.

Lance Corporal Joshua Taylor was just 21 when he was killed during a training exercise at Nevada’s Hawthorne Army Depot. That was March 18, 2013.

He left behind family including his parents, siblings, grandparents and a fiancé. They were supposed to be married on May 11 of that year. They were high school sweethearts and had been planning their wedding together.

He knew from a young age he wanted to serve his country and entered the Marine Corps just after high school to serve tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

It sounds like he embraced life fully, spending time with family and friends, on hobbies and on giving his best to his country.

They called him “a true young gentleman” who knew what mattered. He never hesitated to approach a veteran, shake their hand and thank them for their service.

The day he died, I was on the other side of the country, going about my business and starting a new job at the bank where I work. I vaguely recall his death making the news. Six other Marines died in this accident. Undoubtedly all of them had with similar stories of loved ones left behind.

Lance Corporal Taylor’s story is just one of millions in our nation’s history. But I can promise they were all just as important, all deserving of being remembered.

Yesterday, CBS Sunday Morning featured the story of another man from another war. He’s the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, an honor received for his actions at Iwo Jima. He insists this medal belongs to others, to those who didn’t make it home and he has devoted a lifetime to veterans issues and to Gold Star families. He’s in his nineties now, still pushing to do more and to work hard for those who didn’t make it home.

Please, if you do nothing else today, take a few minutes and watch his interview. His story is incredible and it should be remembered.

Back here in Ohio, there’s a young woman who should have celebrated her wedding anniversary this month. Her sweetheart wasn’t so lucky to see old age and deserves to be remembered as well.

This Memorial Day, celebrate time with loved ones. Take advantage of the long weekend and the bargains but remember one thing. These freedoms we enjoy were paid for by the men and women who serve our nation- those who come home safely as well as those who gave their lives for the country they love.

Quick Trip To Marietta

Marietta, Ohio is a great day trip from my home. Dating to 1788, it’s the oldest city in Ohio and the official first American settlement in the Northwest Territory.

There’s a ton of history here and a well developed tourism economy that has produced all sorts of ways to spend your time in museums, tours and a quaint downtown. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from here and shops to spend your money. Venture beyond Marietta to surrounding towns or to the countryside and you’ll find even more.

While I’ve seen and done a lot there is to do here, there’s much that I’ve never gotten around to. When you have history related to the American Indian, the founding of a new territory, river travel, the Underground Railroad and large immigrant communities, well, it’s hard to cover it all.

So, last weekend I headed over to Marietta for a day of some new to me fun.

I visited a large old cemetery built around an Indian mound, walked around the Ohio River Museum, shopped the antique mall and took a cruise on the Ohio River on a sternwheeler.

It was a full day and I had a great time. I came home tired and a little sunburned with lots to think about along the way. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about that boat ride!