Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Memorial Day to Remember

Golden Gate National Cemetary, Memorial Day 2015
Every year, we commemorate the sacrifices of our military heroes on two days, separated by six months. Memorial Day is the most American of the two as it was initiated in 1868 as Decoration Day, following the end of the War Between the States (also known as the Second War of Independence), the American Civil War.

Traditionally, graves of Union soldiers were decorated with flowers. The Confederate soldiers were commemorated similarly, but on a separate day. By the 20th Century, the competing days merged into the one we now know, the last Monday of May, the beginning of summer.

Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in other countries in Europe) commemorates the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the guns went silent at the end of World War I. This holiday evolved from this WWI connection to honor the service of all veterans of the U.S. Armed forces. Memorial Day honors the military personnel who died while serving our country. 

Drought-affected GGNC, Memorial Day 2015
This year, unlike so many in the recent past, the United States is not engaged in any major conflict on foreign soil, a reason to think of this year’s holiday as one to be set apart. 

Along with many of my fellow Americans, I visited the graves of members of my family who served in the U.S. Army during World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War. To my knowledge, no one in my family died in combat, despite a long history of service in the Armed Forces.

Since the 1950s, the Golden Gate National Cemetery has been the resting place of uncles, aunts, my parents and siblings. My father and uncle, both U.S. Army officers, are buried with their wives. My sister-in-law passed away a year before my brother and they were interred together in my parent's grave. 

These vast rows of white tombstones and flags are, at once, a majestic and a sorrowful sight.

This post is in Memory of
  • Moses F Verrill, Infantryman, US Army, 20th Maine, War Between the States
  • Hiram W Verrill, PFC, US Army, WWI
  • Thomas A Verrill, Sr. Captain, US Army, WWII
  • Charles A. Adams, Sargent, US Army, WWII
  • Owen K Nichols, US Navy, Korean War
  • Thomas A Verrill, Jr. 1st Lt, US Army, Vietnam War
And in Honor of
  • Maxine M Dillahunty nee Verrill, 1st Lt, US Army, Korean War,
  • William D. Dillahunty, Airman 2nd Cl, US Air Force, Korean War
And with especial thanks to every one of the veterans and serving personnel who volunteer and are prepared to give their lives to protect and preserve our liberty. 


  1. Nice post, Leigh. Thanks for the look back at the beginnings of this day of remembrance. Those images of the the stark white stones say so much.

  2. Thank you, Sandy. Yesterday was cold and gray at the National Cemetery here in the Bay Area. There were a lot of families with children at the gravesides and that was poignant too. All the same, some of the children were young and their playful antics was heartwarming.

  3. Everyone should visit one of our National Cemeteries at least once in a lifetime. The vision both humbles and inspires. I believe a lot of our younger generation take our freedoms for granted, but they were paid for and preserved by each person commemorated with those white headstones. God bless them all.

    1. I agree, Kathye. The present generation (born after the Vietnam War and before Iraq/Afghanistan-my own children included) has not been faced with the life and death decisions that the Greatest Generation made. I think the experience of the Vietnam War changed the Baby-Boomer generation - one of the most politically active and easily influenced - hatred for America was (and still is) a college prerequisite.

  4. It's nice to see Memorial Day being celebrated for its true colors. After all, the three-day weekend is more than about barbecues, blockbusters and a visit to the beach. It's for remembering and honoring the men and women who fought and served the country. That being said, may the souls of every great veteran who have already passed before us rest in peace. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming post, Leigh! All the best to you!

    Victoria Pierce @ Fight 4 Vets

    1. Thank you, Victoria.
      I'm sorry I didn't see this when you wrote your comment but I deeply appreciate your sentiments.
      All the very best,