Happy Memorial Day everyone!
It is the official start of the summer, the first day of swimming pools in most states. It is the day to gather with friends for a BBQ. It is even a great day for buying a car.
|© 2015 Ali Taciroglu|
Today also marks my 10-year anniversary of my silent tradition of visiting cemeteries of our veterans. I neither talked about it nor wrote about it until now. Since I conduct my visits early morning on Sundays, I am also not seen by many people. In recent years, I enjoyed knowing that there are like-minded brothers from Massachusetts who have the same tradition. It feels good that you are not alone… It feels good that Veterans are not alone and there are people who remember them for what they did for their country.
I was alone once again this year due to my recent move from Massachusetts to Southern California. I visited Miramar National Cemetery by myself on Sunday which is about one and a half hours away from my home. I brought pennies to be placed on the tombstones so that tomorrow visitors and families of the veterans can see that there is someone else there thinking and praying for their heroes and beloved ones.
|Leaving coins is a tradition I learnt from Robert Stanley of Massachusetts. This is actually a very old tradition that has its roots in ancient times. Humans have been leaving mementos on and within the final resting places of their loved ones. The earliest known leaving of coins on headstones dates back to the seventh century.|
|This tradition even has a place in the history of old Greek mythology as a fare for the ferryman of Hades which was required as an offer for his services. In modern days, these small coins are left by visitors to indicate that someone had visited that particular grave. There are several articles and websites that talks about this tradition which you might enjoy.||Alexander Dmitrievich Litovchenko (1835-1890) "Charon carries souls across the river Styx" (1)|
Few of my Turkish and American friends who know about my visits had asked me why I visit cemeteries that belong to American Veterans since I am Turkish by birth. I explained to them my reasons when they asked me but I see that there are many people out there who do not understand the importance of serving to one’s country, and thus the importance of this Memorial Day.
It really does not matter where you are born. The place of birth is not your choice. You may have roots in different countries. What is important is that there is a country which is providing a place for you to live in. It provides freedom, justice, and security for you to enjoy your life without fighting and struggling for these basic principles so that you can focus on other things in life to, better your life, be productive and fulfill your potential. That country is your home and your own country. This of course does not come without a cost. There were millions of veterans who fought to ensure this, regardless of which country you live in. You may argue the evil intentions of a country or a single leader. However, there is no other reason for one man to risk his life other than to protect his country and his family (2). No financial gain or any entitlement can justify the sacrifice of their lives. Each veteran who are resting in these graveyards died to provide you with that freedom, justice and security. This requires respect to those and to the flag that represents their blood and ultimate sacrifice.
It is also important to mention that fighting alone for any objective or ideology does neither make you a veteran nor entitle you for respect. There are terrorists who believe in fighting for an objective. There are so called humans that kill innocent people, women and children for self proclaimed message and agendas. It is true that there are many poor and uneducated who are led by evil and ill intentioned individuals into evil doings but there is also a part in everyone's heart that can separate them as being purely good or bad. Regardless of how unintelligent or illiterate you are, the roots of goodness and righteousness may exist in all souls, most especially the good ones. It is this property that allows one to differentiate the good from the bad regardless of one’s background. It even exists in animals. There is no animal out there that kills for the sake of kill, but only for survival needs. So there exists a universal consciousness.
The common denominator of Veterans all around the world is that goodness in their heart. It makes them shield and protect the ones in need without a doubt and with confidence. It is that light that guides them to sacrifice their own lives without any hesitation. That goodness and righteousness makes them heroes with selfless courage and for their steadfast dedication for the good is an honor to self and great honor to the entire mankind.
It does not take much than to embrace and to honor them as such, showing some respect to your veterans and to the flag of your country that you are living in. Show them that you are thankful for their services, and they are much appreciated.
- I know that you are all in a special place far from death. You are very much appreciated and not forgotten. Thank You!
Ali B. Taciroglu
(1) This work is in the public domain in Russia according to article 1256 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. It was published on territory of the Russian Empire (Russian Republic) except for territories of the Grand Duchy of Finland and Congress Poland before 7 November 1917 and wasn't re-published for 30 days following initial publications on the territory of Soviet Russia or any other states. The Russian Federation (early RSFSR, Soviet Russia) is the historical heir but not legal successor of the Russian Empire
(2) I use the masculine form 'man' as in 'mankind' which is meant to refer to and encompass all genders serving their country.