You’ve probably heard it before: Memorial Day means much more than barbecues, parades and an unofficial start to summer. The day is one of remembrance of and honor for those in the U.S. military who died while serving. Those who never came home.
And on the homefront, traditional annual Memorial Day services, replete with parades, salutes and speeches are usually always done in a community gathering. Not this year. There was a gathering of a different kind in Fair Haven — the virtual kind. Each speaker taped his or her speech and all were edited together into one video for all to watch at a safe distance. At home.
One of those speeches was another tradition — the reading of the winning Knollwood School eighth grade essay under a What Memorial Day Means to Me headline.
This year’s selection, of the entire eighth grade class, was the piece written by John Jarvis, son of retired Fair Haven police officer Jeff Jarvis. And for the first time, a portion of the essay was read solo at an empty Memorial Park.
The meaning of Memorial Day, for John, covers a lot about sacrifice, pride and honor. Nothing about barbecues and summer bliss — all 1,000 words of the original. His father said he was proud and moved by his son’s words.
They were broadcast on Fair Haven’s virtual ceremony video. Here’s some of what John had to say …
The following is John Jarvis’ essay entitled What Memorial Day Means to Me in its entirety:
It’s important to celebrate Memorial Day to show the living veterans that we do not forget about their lost comrades, and the huge sacrifices that they have made.
Soldiers often go through things that civilians can never imagine, such as having their friends die in their arms, or seeing the horrible effects of war in front of their eyes. Additionally, soldiers sometimes never tell civilians what they have seen as it brings back memories of those wars, and do not want more people to be thinking about the horrible effects of war. The most respectful way to honor veterans and those who died for our freedom, is to hang an American flag in the front of your house, as the American flag represents the freedom that our soldiers are fighting for and have died for.
On memorial day, I will remember people like John A. Chapman, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing himself to save 23 comrades, Rafael Peralta who shielded his fellow Marines from a grenade with his own body, John Basilone, who single handedly killed over a thousand enemy soldiers at the Battle of Guadalcanal, and a commander like Admiral Raymond Spruance, who gained us our first victory in world war 2 at the battle of Midway.
There are no veterans in my family, however, I do have people in my family that have made sacrifices, like my father who gave 29 years of his life as a Police Officer. I honor and appreciate our Military because of their selflessness from the first day they enlist in the Military. Even if they have never seen combat, they still pay the price of losing their family for many months at a time. All members of our Military, past and current, no matter if they were from the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Coast Guard, they deserved to be honored.
If you wish to honor any member of the Military, the simplest way you can do it is by flying an American flag in your front yard, or thank one for their service if you see them. To all members of our great military, the American flag is the reason that they fight. It represents the freedom they uphold, the defense of the ones who cannot defend themselves, and the protection of their family and their homes.
A soldier’s character is like something most people had never seen before, their unquestionable loyalty, selflessness, integrity, and their sacrifice. Ronald Reagan during his first inaugural address once said, “The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. Those who say that we’re in a time where there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look; The sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with it’s row upon row of simple white markers, bearing crosses, or stars of david. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers, is a monument, to the kind of Hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and half way around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice patties and jungles of a place called Vietnam.”
This speech alone shows the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Americans abroad for freedom, but with the price of their lives. It shows the loyalty to their Country and their Commander-in-Chief, their selflessness, integrity, and sacrifice. Our veterans deserve our utmost respect because of what they have been put through in the name of Freedom around the world, and the preservation of our freedom, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They’ve been put through things that us, as civilians, could never imagine.
Their sacrifice embodies the greatness of the American spirit, patriotism, and honor. To me, memorial day is a date in which we honor those who have served, and who are serving, and those who have never made it back to American soil, while acting in the name of freedom domestically and world wide. Memorial day is a date that to me, every American should appreciate and celebrate, to honor the unknown Americans that have fought in hard fought battles and wars, to preserve their rights, as an American and human being.
A great way to honor our fallen soldiers is to visit an American Military cemetery domestically or abroad. Such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Normandy American Cemetery, which over 9,000 American Heros are buried, or across the world in the Philippines, where over 23,000 American Heros are buried.
On memorial day I will fly my American flag high and proud to show my appreciation to every American who has fought overseas to defend our great nation. The word “memorial” to people means and should mean a monument, or a picture, or a building, dedicated to events in the past, and people of the past, who have proven that the monument named after them, deserves to bear their name.
We should never forget our veterans, especially the ones who have died for our country. Although we will never know many of their names, the best thing we can do is celebrate their lives and their sacrifices, no matter is they died during the civil war, the Spanish-American War, World War One, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Mogadishu, or more recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in France, during a speech, President Donald Trump said this, “These men ran through the fires of hell, moved by a force no weapon could destroy: the fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people,” That sentence alone embodies the greatness of a soldier’s sacrifice in the name of freedom for people across the world, and people from our country. Our Country shall never forget those who have never returned.