Memorial Day Essay for 2017
1st Place Winner Jordan Maddox, 8th Grade, St. Margaret School, Narberth PA
Why Do We Have an Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
We all have known the experience of knowing someone who has had a family member die while serving in a war. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents the unidentified soldiers who fought in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier also represents the families who have never been able to gain closure for the loss of their loved ones. The guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents Respect, Peace, Victory, and Valor. There are over one million unidentified soldiers who have died serving our country. Everyday people risk their lives to save others and die. The tomb honors the soldier's hard work and dedication to our country. We sometimes overlook the fact that not every family is blessed with the security of having their loved one return home. Some families are greeted by their loved one when they open the front door. Others are greeted by a military officer who gives them the worst news that they have ever received.
Take a moment to reflect how you would feel if you and your family members were notified by a military officer that the remains of a loved one could not be identified and returned. There are at least four hundred thousand people buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Almost seven hundred thousand Americans have died while serving in war. In today's society people are obsessed with being recognized for the smallest accomplishment. We constantly hear about people who are recognized for things such as sports and politics, but we rarely hear about people being honored for dying so we could have a better life. We take for granted the sacrifices our parents have made and are continuing to make our lives more comfortable. Soldiers make sacrifices everyday for us and ask for nothing in return. You always hear about the small mistakes these people make, but you never hear about the sacrifices these heroes make for us every day.
My peers and I owe parents, police officers, firefighters, soldiers and all of our elders more appreciation for all of their sacrifices. It is often difficult to remember other people as we strive to do our best. When given the chance, we can all work to ease the burden of others. It can be a small gift or volunteering to help those less fortunate than we. Ever since I was little my parents have taught me to honor and respect everyone. This past summer, my father, brother, and I volunteered at the "I Can Shine" camp. This program helps children with down syndrome, autism, and other developmental needs to learn how to ride a two wheel bike without training wheels. Although all of the children do not learn to ride independently by the end of the program, the parents always express their gratitude. This was the most humbling experience for me and I encourage everyone to experience something similar.
Some families are more fortunate than others. When a family member goes to war, families are extremely excited for them to return. Many other heroes do not return from war. Soldiers who serve in war, risk their lives. Some of these people who risk their lives die. The bodies of these heroes could be completely destroyed and unrecognizable. Any war can change a person the happiest person into the saddest. Almost one million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have suffered from some form of trauma. Many war veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). This is a mental health problem that many people develop after experiencing a traumatic event like war. People who suffer from these events find it hard to continue normal activities such as going to work or sleeping. All veterans sacrifice a body part of their happiness. No soldier will ever come out of a war the same person that they were before they left, but heroes will do anything to save the people that they love even it it means losing a part of themselves.