Memorial Day: The fallen have risen

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As I See It

BY ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

As we remember and honor those fallen soldiers this Memorial Day, we are bringing back to life their patriotic and heroic contributions to our beloved country. They gave their lives fighting for our country in the name of freedom! Let’s remember them!

Memorial Day was set aside to honor military personnel who did the “ultimate sacrifice” for our country. It’s a day for remembering those who died in battle, those brave warriors who gave their lives in defense of our country, and also those who were wounded as a result in battle.

This was emphasized by Vice President Mike Pence who led the traditional wreath laying at the tomb of unknown soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia last Monday, May 27, 2019 while US President Donald Trump is in Japan. Pence is in-charge in honoring the fallen soldiers in the absence of the president, so their legacy will be remembered that will endure and last forever!

Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks (Ret.) and Timothy Naftali, former director of the Nixon National Library and Museum, both spoke during the ceremonies recognizing the amazing contributions of the young men and women who ultimately sacrificed to give their lives for service to the country on Memorial Day.

In general, the country celebrated Memorial Day with many Americans viewing it as the official beginning of summer, marked by picnics, BBQs, and relaxing with friends and relatives. But Memorial Day is a very important holiday established to give us time to honor and remember the men and women in the Armed Forces of the United States of America who sacrificed their lives for a big cause!

Americans thanked a veteran on Memorial Day as a gesture of remembering and honoring our fallen soldiers. People thanked them for all they have done to protect our country and our freedom. For those who didn’t know a veteran, they wrote a letter to a veteran or a soldier expressing their gratitude and sentiments on Memorial Day.

In addition to the traditional BBQs and picnics, people attended a parade or watched the parade in television; some residents decorated the graves of the fallen soldiers on Memorial Day with flags and elaborated on the red, white and blue colors. They even brought that tradition home and decorated their houses and lawns with the stars and stripes. For those who have their flagpoles, they raised their flags at half-mast from dawn until noon local time in reverence to our dead heroes.

In Milpitas, the Memorial Day celebration was held at City Hall last Monday, May 27, 2019 led by City Mayor Rich Tran and Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez, together with the rest of the members of the City Council. California District 25 Assembly member Kansen Chu attended the ceremonies and presented a California State Assembly certificate of appreciation to the Milpitas Veterans Commission (VC) for their efforts in bringing together the community in honoring those fallen soldiers and their families and love ones on Memorial Day.

While the tone of the celebration is so happy and festive with people remembering the heroic contributions of the fallen soldiers to the country, spouses of the fallen are lobbying in Congress to eliminate the so-called widows’ tax being imposed on the benefits they are receiving. They say they are receiving so small amount compared to their spouses’ sacrifice and yet it is still being taxed (widows’ taxes) by the government.

Senators Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, are leading a bipartisan campaign in the Senate to fix the problem. More than 70 senators are supporting the plan and hundreds of members of Congress back a similar idea.

It’s about time, using this Memorial Day celebration, people can come together and call their congressmen to listen to the status of families of fallen soldiers whose meager benefits from their fallen spouses are being deducted the widows’ tax. There is a campaign to eliminate the widow’s tax.

We lifted the souls of the fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day to give life to their undying contributions to the country in the name of freedom!

At this time, I can’t prevent myself from remembering the contributions of our fallen relative-soldiers led by the late Gen. Sergio Estioko; the late Col. Eliodoro Estioko; the late Col. Gabriel Estioko; the late Lt. Jose Estioko (Philippine Army); the late Sgt. Ising Estioko (US Army).

Through our recollections, they have risen to remind us of their major contributions to our country in particular, and to humanity, in general!

By the way, let’s not confuse ourselves with Memorial Day, which we are celebrating in the month of May, with that of Veterans Day, which we are celebrating in November. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have fallen and wounded in battle while on Veterans Day, we honor all who have served in the military, which according to the legislation on June 1, 1954, were leveled as “American veterans of all wars.”

So, aside from celebrating our heroes on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day, let’s celebrate and honor them… our soldiers… our heroes… our fallen comrades… everyday!

We honor all those who served and still serving the military… They deserve our highest recognition and respect for risking their lives for a cause!

(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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