Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trip to Normandy Beach Sparks Memorial Day Remembrance . . .

“To these we owe the highest resolve that the cause for which they died shall live.”
                                                                         Omaha Beach Memorial, Normandy France

A big salute to all our USA military war veterans on this Monday’s Memorial Day.

Because of the sacrifice of our military personnel and the sacrifices of their families, Americans and the people of many other countries now live in freedom and peace.

Notwithstanding the bashing that America takes when we do intervene and the bashing we take when we don’t intervene, the whole world owes our soldiers and their families a debt of gratitude for being the ones on the front lines.

I am especially appreciative of this sacrifice each time I volunteer at the USO compound in Dubai. I am constantly impressed with the young American men and women who are serving the Middle East. The brief time of respite they share with us in Dubai is small recompense for the long anxious days potentially in harm’s way and away from loved ones.

Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial Day began as a grassroots celebration in many small cities across the USA after the Civil War. Spontaneous ceremonies memorialized the war dead on both sides – Union and Confederate.

On May 5, 1968, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic General John Logan proclaimed Memorial Day to be officially celebrated on May 30th. The first observation placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. US Presidents continue this tradition with President Obama marking the day with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial.

After World War I, Memorial Day was designated a day to honor the dead from that conflict as well. Today, Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday of May, honors American soldiers who died in any war.

Reinforcements land on Normandy Beach
Photo courtesy of
In recent history, the cemetery site at Normandy Beach has featured prominently in Memorial Day celebrations. While I couldn’t find any big doings this year, my friend Shirley Ralston’s blog, To Remember – A Memorial  posting of her trip to visit the beaches of Normandy, reignited memories of the ultimate sacrifice made by our troops in this brutal amphibious landing that foretold the defeat of the Germans in World War II. 

I encourage you to read this posting and especially to take a moment to watch the short video of the “Taps” ceremony. I was delighted to learn that, as a veteran or family member of a loved one buried here, you can request to participate in the ceremony.

I think Roger is convinced that Normandy is on our “must-do list” for next summer’s trip to Europe.

Postscript. . . 
And a personal salute  . . . to members of my immediate family who proudly served their country. My husband Roger, my dad Tom Gustafson, Sr.(deceased), my uncle Bill Gustafson (deceased) and my father-in-law Floyd Foster who all served in the US Army, and, brother-in-law Tommy Foster and nephews Ryan Foster and Mike Gustafson, Jr. who served in the US Navy.  

National Moment of Remembrance . . . In 2000, because there was a national feeling that Memorial Day had lost its meaning since becoming a national three day weekend, the White House, under the direction of President Bill Clinton, passed a resolution to establish 3 PM local time as a time for every American to honor those who lost their lives defending and preserving America and its values. Each American is asked to take a moment of silence, participate in a simple ceremony or make whatever personal acknowledgement they want to honor the American soldier. 

I don’t know if this is still promoted but I invite you to join me Monday, May 30 at 3 PM for a moment of remembrance. Please leave me a comment of your remembrance.

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