Chad Storlie: This Monday on Memorial Day, go visit the fallen

Memorial Day is a busy holiday. The swimming pools open, everyone gets outside in the fresh air and there are lots of parties and barbeques. This Memorial Day make a pledge to go visit the fallen and renew your understanding and appreciation for their sacrifice.

The struggle with Memorial Day is how do we make the remembrance personal, respectful and meaningful? On Memorial Day, we need to remember those who fell in combat during America’s conflicts. The fallen military personnel we remember could be a paratrooper jumping into the black during the invasion of Normandy in World War II, a U.S. Navy sailor who patrolled along the rivers of China in the 1920s or members of the famed African American “Buffalo Soldiers” who served protecting settlers in the western U.S. as members of the U.S. Cavalry. No matter where they fell and how long ago they fell, we need to continue to remember them all.

We need to remember their courage, sacrifice, professionalism, dedication and the essence that made them devote their life to their country. We need to remember the recent fallen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as remember those long past from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In remembering the large wars, we cannot forget the “small” wars of Panama, Haiti, Somalia, Lebanon, as well as countless other small conflicts and attacks where American servicemen and servicewomen died.

Making Memorial Day real, meaningful and personal is the essential step. The Department of Veterans Affairs has 131 National Cemeteries in 40 states that will be open to visit. In those cemeteries, there are military personnel who have fallen for hundreds of years to protect America – we need to honor their sacrifice and remember them. There is nothing more compelling to understand personal sacrifice then seeing row upon row of white perfectly aligned tombstones upon a green field and knowing a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman lies there.

Make Memorial Day meaningful and personal. Go visit a national cemetery, learn about the military personnel who fell and remember them.

Find the closest national cemetery by you at
Chad Storlie
Omaha, Nebraska
Editor’s note: The letter writer, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer, can be reached at

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