This Monday marks the beginning of summer. It will be celebrated with barbecues, swimming, and parties. Many people will go camping and enjoy the great outdoors, while some take advantage of Memorial Day mattress sales and 30% off at clothing stores.
Then there will be others who will shy away from the parties, the crowds, and the mattress sales. While they may participate in some festivities, they will need some time during the day to be alone. They will be seen wiping tears from their eyes. It will be a hard day for them.
Why the difference?
Because Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day set aside to remember and honor the fallen soldiers of America. Memorial Day is a day for a dad to remember the daughter he can’t take fishing anymore. It is a chance for a son to honor the father he won’t be able to send a Father’s Day card to next month. It is a time soldiers use to be grateful again for their brothers and sisters in arms who died to protect them.
This is especially the case for the soldiers who are alive today because of Army Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith.
Smith was helping build an impromptu prisoner of war holding area in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003 when his unit was attacked by a group of Iraqi fighters. During the battle, an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier was hit, wounding three soldiers inside. Smith saw to their evacuation to an aid station behind them. He then climbed inside a different M113 that was also damaged, but usable. He ordered his driver to position the vehicle so he could fire on the enemy. Smith and his team protected their soldiers and other casualties at the aid station. During the operation, Smith let himself be exposed in order to continually fire on enemy positions. He went through three boxes of ammunition before his gun fell silent.
Smith’s team found him slumped over the machine gun. His armor showed 13 bullet holes. For his heroism and sacrifice, Army Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Here you can read more of Smith’s story, and the stories of other soldiers posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Sadly, a medal is not given to every soldier who dies in action.
Although there are many stories to be told, there are few listening today. Take time to listen to the stories of heroes this Memorial Day. These heroes are a part of every generation.
If you have a story of a fallen hero, please share it with us in the comments. We want to listen. We want to hear their stories in gratitude of the sacrifice they made.
We also want to thank you, the family member, still paying the price for your loved one’s sacrifice by having an empty seat at the kitchen table, by having to place a pillow on the left side of the bed because it is always empty, by not having a father walk you down the aisle. We honor you, thank you, and are praying for you, especially on this Memorial Day.