By Abigail Essen
Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, is a day on which we remember those
who fought and died during active military service. Memorial Day was traditionally observed on
May 30, but it is now officially observed on the last Monday in May. Memorial Day originally
honored those who served in the Civil War from 1861-1865. During the Civil War,
approximately 620,000 Americans died fighting for freedom from each other, potentially, dividing
our country apart. After the war ended, Americans started celebrating this day to remember all
those people who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for their people.
In 2017, Memorial Day has become a day enjoyed with barbeques and parties to
celebrate ALL the soldiers fighting for our country. I believe the best way to remember the men
and women who fought for our freedom and independence is to celebrate them with your family
and friends. Many cities and towns across the country remember and celebrate with big
parades. While many families visit cemeteries and memorials where their loved ones have been
laid to rest.
Similar to many people around the country, Memorial day to me is all about family. It’s a
day when my family gets together, to enjoy a good barbeque and appreciate each other and the
freedom that we take advantage of every day. Personally, my Mom’s Uncle Billy and Uncle
Howie are two people that my family appreciate every Memorial Day. They both served in our
military during the Vietnam war. While in Vietnam fighting for our continued freedom, Uncle Billy
was exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a defoliant chemical used by the US in the
Vietnam War. After returning from war, with Agent Orange in his system and unaware of the the
complications of that exposure. He and my Aunt Margie had a baby boy, Christopher.
Unfortunately, my mom’s little cousin, Christopher was born with Agent Orange in his system
and diagnosed with bladder cancer as a baby. Sadly, he suffered, and ultimately, died from
complications of the bladder cancer at the very young age of 7 years old. Uncle Billy blamed
himself and suffered from severe depression for many years. The trauma of losing their son
was too much for my Uncle Billy and Aunt Margie’s marriage to handle. They divorced a short
time after Christopher’s death.
Although, my Uncle Howie was fortunate enough to escape Agent Orange exposure or
other neurological issues. The physical demands his body endured during those years in
Vietnam still plague him to this day. He walks with a limp and has to limit the amount of time he
stays on his feet.
For me, Memorial Day reminds me, how grateful I am to all the young men and women
that are fighting for us to maintain our freedom and quality of life. To, not only, remember my
Mom’s Uncle Billy and Howie for their service to our country. But, to also, remember my mom’s
cousin Christopher who lost his life due to complications suffered by Uncle Billy during his time
fighting for my freedom
Vietnam Veterans of America
Bergen County, NJ
Relative: Bruce Partyka
Attending Bergen Community College
by Ashley Chamberlain
Without veterans, our great country could not possibly be even half as great as it is today. I believe that veterans are by far most courageous, respectable, and hard-working citizens in our society. My gratitude for every single honorable soldier who has served or will serve for the freedom of every American citizen in past, present, and future generations, not only exists on Veterans and Memorial Day, but on every other day of my life as well. Memorial day and Veterans day mean remembering and being thankful for all of the soldiers who have served the United States of America, whether they survived or lost their lives in battle.
I believe that Memorial Day and Veterans day are two of the most important days in the history of the United States. Generations on generations of courage, incredible strength, and determination are righteously remembered over these two short days. Veterans Day is especially important to me because it is a day that was specifically established to honor brave veterans, like the best man I know, my Pop. It’s a day to honor other people’s grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles for serving our country.
These days for me, mean remembering and acknowledging that the freedoms and liberties I have today that I may occasionally take for granted, never would exist had courageous people not sacrificed their lives for the benefit of the entire country years ago. It means thanking the gentleman wearing his VVA cap for the service he has done, even though I know that one little Thank you or welcome home will never show just how grateful I am for what he has done for the life I live.
Veterans and Memorial day mean being thankful that others left their lives and families at home for people that they didn’t even know. Giving up your life and fighting for the country and the freedom of other people is the most unselfish thing that anyone could do and the majority of people would never be that selfless. Veterans are not only heroes, but they are humble and I am thankful every day for the life that the humble people who fought endlessly for our country have given me the ability to have.
Granddaughter of Victor DeCosmis
Attending The University of New Hampshire