The Marine Corps’ chaplain, speaking yesterday to a congregation that has tied gold ribbons on the church’s fence in honor of fallen troops since the Iraq war began, lauded the sacrifice of veterans around the world, and President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan for Memorial Day.
“What they have done has allowed us to be here,” Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben told about 200 worshippers at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan who included active-duty service members in town for the annual Fleet Week celebration.
Memorial Day, she said, is a time to remind us of the meaning of sacrifice and to put personal struggles and difficulties in perspective.
Across the nation, citizens were marking Memorial Day with somber ceremonies, flag plantings at cemeteries, parades and even barbecues — an American pastime that Petty Officer 1st Class Brian McNeal said should be enjoyed this weekend.
“I’m in the service so that they can enjoy that,” said McNeal, 39, who is stationed in Suffolk, Va., and is in New York for Fleet Week. “They made the sacrifice so everyday citizens don’t have to worry about the evils of the world.”
Thousands of memorial ribbons are tied on the storied church’s fence. There are gold ribbons for service members killed in Afghanistan, green ribbons representing prayers for peace, and blue ribbons for the people of Afghanistan.
On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., served as grand marshal of Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade and struggled to hold back tears during a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen troops. She lost her legs and partial use of an arm when a rocket-
propelled grenade hit the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting in Iraq in 2004.
More than 300 Junior ROTC students from the Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville marched in the city’s parade. Afterward, still dressed in their uniforms, they chatted, bantered and ordered ice cream from a vendor’s truck while waiting for a bus that would take them home.
Their instructor, 1st Sgt. Stephen Roberts, an Army veteran, said the students practice all year to march in the parade.
“They enjoy it a lot,” Roberts said. “We tell them about it at the beginning of the year. Our rifle, our drum teams, our flags, they practice every day. They come in on their own accord. They do their own practices. It means a lot to them. They’re very proud to do this.”
In Massachusetts on Saturday, Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman and his rescuer, Carlos Arredondo, helped plant tens of thousands of flags at a cemetery to honor soldiers.
SOURCE: Jake Pearson