The Origins Of Memorial Day

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Chris Hayes opens his Sunday show with the origins of Memorial Day. Funnily enough, this is the first time I've heard the freed slaves aspect of its inception. The history I've always been told revolved around women decorating the graves of fallen soldiers, presumably grieving widows and mothers. To his credit, Hayes reminds us that there are civilian casualties that we have no holiday for but whom we cannot forget as well.

My retired Air Force general grandfather took Memorial Day very seriously. He had seen his share of sacrifices by his fellow troops; he was still haunted by the ghosts of his own service. And there was nothing he could say that would express the magnitude of how his service impacted his life to those of us outside of the military. He felt a kinship with all service members for their shared experience.

That's one of the reasons that I do the In Memoriam segment each week. It's my little nod to my late grandfather, to the ethos he passed on to his children and grandchildren. I don't want the parents, spouses and children of those still overseas to think for a minute that we don't know and grieve for their loss.

I have never supported this mission, openly asking for someone to explain what we're doing in intellectually honest terms. But I've never blamed the service members for the political wrongs of those who sent them there.

And bless Chris for later bringing up the shameful and media-hidden number of suicides of our soldiers in Afghanistan. To date, 164 service members have killed themselves in Afghanistan. But that is only part of the story. Here, in the US, returned veterans are killing themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes, a horrifying indictment of how they've been abandoned by the country that asked them to sacrifice everything.

Candy Crowley speaks to Paul Reickhoff on the backlog of VA benefits for our returned veterans
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Let's hope and pray that we can claim an improvement by next Memorial Day.


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