Let’s not forget vets on Memorial Day

I hope you’re having a great Memorial Day weekend. Ours started out soggy. We had two tournaments– one baseball, one soccer— but rain that would make Noah shudder changed our plans. We managed to barbecue and see friends and family in between raindrops and the kids played 5 games so far.

baseball camo on carpoolcandy.com

I’d like to think our camouflage uniform was a nod to vets

But I never want to forget what the holiday is about, especially since—as you may remember from my Memorial Day blog last year-– my dad was a Vietnam Navy vet and extremely patriotic. Vets hold a special place in my heart.

I wrote a story Friday for FoxNews.com about an organization that is making sure the U.S. servicemen in World Wars I and II are never forgotten.

I had never heard of the American Overseas Memorial Day Association (AOMDA) and I bet you haven’t either, but their mission will move you.

The AOMDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the memory of those who gave their lives in the World Wars, whose final resting places are in American military cemeteries or separate graves all over Europe and even Africa.

AOMDA ceremonies in Belgium on carpoolcandy.com

Courtesy: Mark Hubis

The group’s efforts are mostly run by volunteers in big cities– where American cemeteries have thousands of graves– and small towns where maybe only a handful of men are buried.

On Memorial Day, hundreds of volunteers make sure there’s a new flag on every grave of a fallen U.S. soldier. They also pay for floral arrangements and coordinate huge memorial ceremonies with crowds as big as 3,000- 5,000 people, who come to pay their respects and express their gratitude for the sacrifices made by American veterans to liberate Europe.

AOMDA ceremonies in Belgium on carpoolcandy.com

American and Belgian flags at a US cemetery in Belgium                                                 (courtesy Mark Hubis)

There are both Europeans and Americans who attend the ceremonies– some of them World War II veterans, although their numbers are dwindling as many are in their 90’s. Members of the U.S. and many European governments and military also attend.

The AOMDA enlists the help of local embassies, civic and vets organizations—and sometimes, if possible, next-of-kin volunteers– to place new flags every year on the hundreds of isolated graves in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

AOMDA American vet ceremonies in Belgium on carpoolcandy.com

Memorial Day ceremonies at American cemetery in Belgium   (courtesy Mark Hubis)

Many local Belgian residents have adopted graves of American vets at these cemeteries and honor them throughout the year. It’s a way of showing their appreciation for those who paid the ultimate price.

One of the organization’s goals is to continue to engage younger generations to always be mindful of American sacrifices. They do that through social media and interactive activities with young people like a recent local art competition asking the question, “Why should we remember them?” and an award that works like a Boy Scout merit badge.

AOMDA American vet ceremonies in Belgium on carpoolcandy.com

Courtesy Mark Hubis

I find it so impressive and meaningful that so many Europeans take the time and energy to remember our fallen vets on a day that isn’t even a holiday where they live. It also makes me wonder if we are doing enough here.

Fox also has a great story up now about a few simple things we can do here to honor all our vets. You can check it out here.

The AOMDA runs on individual donations and membership dues. If you want to donate to this noble cause or get more information, check out their website at http://aomda.com/ or www.aomda.org.

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One response to “Let’s not forget vets on Memorial Day

  1. Lorraine Marie Reguly

    Hi! I am leaving this comment because I would like for you to update your Liebster Award post with the correct link. I am going to be deleting my old site (Lorraine Reguly’s Life) and so would really appreciate it if you could update your post with a link to Wording Well. This is my new site, and because I have moved my “old” post to my “new” site, you will be left with a broken link if you don’t change it. I don’t want this to happen! Besides, http://wordingwell.com/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed/ is still the same post it always was, but the domain name has changed. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me. The internet is forever – or at least until we change things, so, please, can you change this for me? (Thanks!)