A Letter to the Editor regarding Memorial Day

Melida Arredondo (Gold Star Mother who lost her stepson Alex in Iraq in August 2004.)

Dear Editor – I’m writing in response to a trend that I have noticed among local cemeteries in the City of Boston at Memorial Day. To me this is a day especially for those families and friends to remember personal losses that have occurred as a result of wars.

At one cemetery, a Vietnam veteran will be speaking. At another cemetery, an Iraqi War Veteran will be speaking. Believe me when I say that I honor the service of all veterans. However, they are remembered and honored at Veterans’ Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Patriot’s Day.

Memorial Day is a time to remember the Fallen and those who are not among us and sacrifced their lives. Who best to remember those silenced than their family members and friends? These are the people who have had to live without their sons and daughters, husbands and wives or Dads or Moms. These are the people who know what it means to sacrifice their own blood in the name of country and liberty.

I often feel that the voices of families and friends of the fallen are silenced because there is a concern by event organizers that the public does not want to feel pain and sadness. However, pain and sadness should not be avoided. Pain and sadness are natural reminders that something is wrong or out of sorts.

Speaking for many people who I know, no one, least of all our troops want to exist in a perpetual state of war. A goal is peacetime at home and in the places where the troops have served. As the United States enters its 10th year of war that began in Afghanistan in late 2001, there are young people who have lived their whole lives with the pall of war looming over them. This is unnatural and has a profound effect on the psychology of our whole society.

My own stepson Alex enlisted as a Marine prior to 911 and stated to me that he would be on missions as a peacekeeper. He did want to bring peace and liberty to Iraq, the country where he died and hoped to do the same when deployed to Afghanistan.

I have attended too many military funerals and met countless family members of the fallen. This is a part of my life due to losing my stepson at the age of 20. I feel that when anyone meets a family member of a fallen troop, the costs of war are made real. I compare the death of a troop to that of a police officer and fire fighter – such deaths are all to be avoided. These jobs are important and appreciated.

Often family members of the fallen devote themselves to channeling their energies in doing good deeds to support the troops, providing scholarship opportunities to those in need and promoting policies that improve the lives of troops and their military families. What a wonderful example of community and overcoming the harshest of adversities to honor their loved ones!

The families and friends of the fallen are a rich resource living among us who deserve to be heard at least once per year at Memorial Day, a day when they personally feel the loss of their fallen kin, a day when they should not be invisible.

Sincerely yours, Melida Arredondo

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About Michael T. McPhearson

Currently Michael is executive director of Veterans For Peace and co-chair of the Don't Shoot Coalition, A Saint Louis based coalition that formed in the aftermath of Michael Brown's police killing death in Ferguson, MO. From August 2010 to September 2013, Michael worked as the National Coordinator with United For Peace and Justice. He is a former board member of Veterans For Peace and as well as Executive Director from 2005 to 2010. He works closely with the Newark based People’s Organization for Progress and the Saint Louis centered Organization for Black Struggle. Michel also publishes the Mcphearsonreport.org expressing his views on war and peace, politics, human rights, race and other things. Michael also launched Reclaimthedream.org website as an effort to change the discourse and ignite a new conversation about Dr. Martin Luther King’s message and what it means to live in just and peaceful communities.