I asked my good friend and colleague, Terry Schow, Director of Utah Veteran’s Affairs to pen a reflection on behalf of those he so notably serves. Following are his words:
Memorial Day 2012 as many of us traveled the state to various events we all observed the beautiful sights of flowers in our cemeteries. For many years it was called Decoration Day. Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
At hundreds of cemeteries around the state volunteers from Veterans groups and the public placed flags on the graves of our Veterans. At our Veterans Cemetery next to Camp Williams in Bluffdale, Governor Herbert spoke of the significance of the sacrifice of the families of the fallen. Brad Halliday, Gold Star father of LCpl Carlos Aragon KIA USMC, spoke movingly of the loss to their family and the pride Carlos felt for his service. At the Veterans Cemetery after the Memorial Day Program, Tony Galvez, Gold Star father of Cpl Adam Galvez KIA USMC, expressed thanks for remembering the families of the fallen.
We are mindful of the great sacrifice of those who serve, who were wounded or died as a result of military service. We must always remind our youth of these sacrifices. And we ourselves must NEVER forget.
As Lieutenant Governor, I join with Director Schow in thanking both past and current members of the armed forces, and their families.