About Memorial Day
By Daryl Hunter

Private First Class Jacob Allcott, 21 from Caldwell Idaho, was killed April 22 near Baghdad. On Friday May 5, I heard on the radio that the following day to honor Pfc. Allcott, that the people of Idaho Falls were going to line the funeral procession route to the Iona cemetery, I decided to go too pay my respects to our fallen soldier I did not know. The Idaho Falls community responded with a remarkable outpouring of love and support for Allcott and his family, an impressive tribute since Allcott although a native son, moved away from the area when he was a boy. Allcott's funeral procession went down Woodruff and First Street in route for the Iona cemetery, and on every corner dozens of people waved flags, put their hands over their hearts or saluted as the hearse drove by. Several businesses on First Street changed their marquees to honor PFC. Jacob Allcott.

Dozens of people gathered at the cemetery to say goodbye; many who did not know Allcott were present to show their support for American troops. Jacob Allcott’s father Bruce Allcott, was moved by the recognition by of the Idaho Falls community for his son's sacrifice. After the graveside service Bruce Allcott said: "I think what you saw here today was a great tribute to him and hopefully all those that have served, will serve and do serve in the military. I hope that if nothing else we get a real outpour for our military people."

Friends and family stressed that Allcott a recipient of a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a Good Conduct Medal, died while on a mission he believed in. Allcott was "loyal and had an acute sense of justice," family friend Kathi O'Bannon said.

It is to honor our selfless heroes like Jacob Allcott that Memorial Day was established, originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. The origins of Memorial Day are unclear, there are many stories as to its actual beginning with over two-dozen cities and towns claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. It is likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the aftermath of the Civil War was indicative of the general human need to honor our dead, each community contributed to the growing movement that culminated in Gen John A. Logan’s official proclamation of a Memorial Day in 1868.

Observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries the graves of fallen are increasingly ignored, some people think the day is for honoring all that have passed away; and not just those who died in service to our country that is if they think of it at all. For many people, Memorial Day is just the first big weekend of the summer season and a reason to go somewhere or an opportunity to fill a cash register.

Today in America as the War on Terror is Monday morning quarter-backed, and the debate continues on how to proceed, which terrorist countries should be targeted and which should be excluded in our strategy to end Islamo-fascist terror provides a point of consternation for many. Some who perceive the war as wrong blame the soldier for their perception of immoral wrongdoing, hundreds of thousands of veterans from Viet Nam were wrongfully dishonored by such attitudes. This travesty is a pity because weather you believe war is right, or wrong these selfless men who sacrificed life and limb did so in their altruistic belief they were serving their country and should be honored by all.

It seems that more often than not our regions Memorial Weekend is accompanied by leaden skies that dampen our barbecues and soak our tents. Perhaps this is a subtle reminder from above that possibly we need a reminder of the solemnity of the occasion.

It is not important who was the first to establish Memorial Day to honor our fallen heroes, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division, it is about reconciliation, respect, Thanksgiving and retrospection; it is about coming together to honor over 650,000 Americans who in the course of America’s military history have given their all so we could have a carefree barbeque with our loved ones.


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