Keep Memorial Day sacred

Published 10:08 pm Friday, May 2, 2014

To the editor:

I write on behalf of myself and the other members of the Norman R. Matthews Post 57 of the American Legion in Suffolk to express our concerns to the Suffolk School Board about its decision to use Memorial Day as a school make-up day.

The historical meaning of Memorial Day has not changed, and the holiday should be kept sacred. Having a scheduled make-up day on Memorial Day is truly unfortunate, and some Suffolk citizens seem to share our concern.

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It seems apparent the School Board concluded that making up days lost to winter weather without resorting to Saturdays or a longer school year is more relevant and convenient than recognizing the military service of deceased fellow citizens, family members and friends.

If they are not going to be given the day off, instead of keeping students in school on Memorial Day, the city should load them back on their buses and take them to Cedar Hill Cemetery or the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery for one of the Memorial Day services. It would be a day trip that would impact their lives forever.

It’s a sad commentary on today’s society that we even have to write this letter. Here in Tidewater all of the military services are highly visible. We can’t ignore the fact that the largest naval base in the world is in the neighborhood.

Paying lip service about honoring former and current military personnel is easy. Only when it might interfere with something else — like scheduling a make-up day — do we see how committed people really are to honoring those who have served.

To the school system, we say, teach the students of Suffolk something truly important about their heritage and nation. Some will have to answer the call of duty in the future, so it would be good if they understood its significance today.

Finally, we offer our support and appreciation to all those who served or are serving — or had family or friends who served — in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts around the world.

Joe Garlitz

Commander

Post 57, American Legion

Suffolk