(by John Ellsworth, FamiliesUnitedMission.com, now MilitaryFamiliesUnited.org) – Memorial Day – For most it is a three-day weekend, filled with barbecues and picnics…A time to get away from the normal humdrum of the work week. For others it symbolizes the beginning of summer, a time to look forward to the long lazy days and a time to plan your summer get-a-ways.

Though for some, as in our family, Memorial Day holds a special significance.

Now for many of us, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War seem like ancient history. My generation even finds the Vietnam War becoming a fading memory.

But recently, due to Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, we, the American people, have once again been thrust into a position of remembering those who are fighting and dying today.

More than a million American service members have died in the wars and conflicts this nation fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. Our son, LCPL Justin Ellsworth of the United States Marine Corp. was one of them.

Each person who died during those conflicts was a loved one cherished by family and friends. Each was a loss to the community and the nation. On a personal level, we have a large hole in our family!

The words of the philosopher John Stuart Mill say it best: He said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling of a person who thinks, ‘nothing is worth war’ is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free….”

Please remember those that gave their lives, so that we may continue to live in freedom, not just on Memorial Day – but everyday…Lest we forget.

Posted at the Families United for the Troops and Their Mission blog (familiesunitedmission.com) on May 22, 2006 – now called MilitaryFamiliesUnited.org


1.  Read about the author John Ellsworth and about his son Lance Corporal Ellsworth at justinellsworth.com and militaryfamiliesunited.org/blog/tag/10.

2.  Suggestions for Memorial Day by Armstrong Williams posted at Townhall.com: “do something different this weekend. Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes. Visit memorials and fly U.S. Flags at half-staff until noon and pledge to aid the disabled veterans, widows, widowers and orphans of those that died in conflicts and wars.”
Also, consider writing a note of support and encouragement to a soldier.  The following websites can help get you started: