The Empty Seat reminds us all this Memorial Day of those who have given their lives in the Armed Forces in service of our nation.

 
 
 "For the second year in a row, Memorial Day looks a little different than in years past. In many cases, our backyard barbecues and get-togethers are replaced by video chats and other marvels of modern technology." Mark Smith, President Lewisville Morning Rotary
As noted by Mark this Memorial Day we hold on to some semblance of what life was and what we know it will return to. And the memories and emotions this day brings are always the same. For countless families across the nation, Memorial Day is a stark and often painful reminder of those who were never afforded the opportunity to be honored as veterans for their service to our country. Their sacrifice is a true expression of selfless service—one that no one would pick for themselves. 
 
Whether they volunteered at a time of war, served during peacetime or never expected to wear our nation's uniform until their draft card arrived, they represent the best America has to offer. We feel their loss roaming the sacred hills of Arlington National Cemetery and in other final resting places around the world. Too many mothers, fathers, siblings and children feel the immense weight of seeing an empty chair year-round. For them, Memorial Day brings to the forefront what is always operating in the background.
 
Please join me in recognizing those family members here today who have lost a loved one in service. Your courage and grace after such unimaginable loss are inspiring. We will now talk a little about the history of Memorial Day.
 
Bob Troyer presented some historical information about memorial day.
 
 
 Memorial Day was established primarily for the purpose of remembering those who gave their lives for our country. There are other holidays designated to show our appreciation to all those who have served or are serving. Although the conflicts we were engaged in before the Civil War are not generally recognized as the reason we have Memorial Day, please remember over 9,430 soldiers died during four conflicts between 1775 and 1848. The History of “Memorial Day” actually started around 1860. During and after the American Civil War, Families, especially “black families” visited and decorated the graves of family members who died during the war. In most cases their visitation included decorating the grave and spending a good part of the day staying at the grave site with a picnic lunch. By 1890 families from all across the country remembered their fallen We should note, the Civil War is recorded as having the greatest number of deaths of any conflict in our history. Between 620,000 and 750,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died as a result of direct involvement in the war. As the tradition of remembering fallen soldiers grew, the day became known as “Fallen Soldiers Day”. In 1971 it became officially known as “Decoration Day”. May 30 became the official holiday and other events including a “National Moment of Remembrance” was created. In 1968, Congress established the last Monday in May as the official date for “Memorial Day”. They also created the three-day weekend to go along with the date.
 
There are over 700 statues and veterans memorials around the country. Many local communities have memorialized local citizens who have given their lives for their community. Some of the more well-known sites include;
 The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arlington Cemetery
 The USS Arizona Memorial- Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
 Korean War Veterans National Memorial,Washington, DC
 National WWII Memorial- Washington DC
 National D-Day memorial- Bedford, Virginia
 National Memorial Arch- Valley Forge, PA
 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall- Washington, DC
 Liberty Memorial- Kansas City, Mo
 The Vietnam Women’s Memorial- Washington, DC And the
 Marine Corps War Memorial- Washington DC.
 
Since Memorial Day opens the door to many summer activities, we need to remember it’s real purpose. To mourn and remember the American service members who died for their country. At the same time, there are five things we also need to remember.
1. “Don’t wish anyone a “Happy Memorial Day”
2.Don’t thank our current troops for Memorial Day
3.Don’t Disregard its importance
4.Don’t forget it exists
5.Don’t let politics keep you from rendering respect
 
As we draw to a close our program, we are reminded of one tradition associated with the day. Throughout the years the wearing of a Red Poppy became a tradition to symbolize death in war. In 1915 John McCrae wrote a poem, titled IN FLANDERS FIELDS which Bob read.
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses,
row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch;
be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
 
Let us honor the memory of heroes no longer with us. And let us strive to live up to the example set by such selfless patriots each and every day. Thank you all for being here today.  
 
The ceremony ended with an appropriate walk through the dank and rainy day to the Pine Hills Retirement Community flag pole where members raised the half mast flag to full staff at noon this Memorial Day in the honor of our fallen warriors.
 
 
Members Ray Bowens, Terry Kasen and Mark Smith raise the flag from half mast in honor of our fallen warriors to full staff at the close of the ceremony.