I would like to offer an observation concerning Memorial Day and its significance. Too many of our younger generation don’t understand, or haven’t been taught, the meaning behind this holiday. Some of our older population seems no longer to remember or care.
I was not born in this country, but this day holds a special meaning to me. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those in uniform who have fallen in service to America; a day to remember those who passed in harms way and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
I was born in the Philippines, the next to youngest daughter of Amado Palomaria, Sr. In his later years, he was a local politician and well-respected man. His younger years molded the man he was to become.
He married young and had two children. He returned home one day after an attack by Japanese aircraft to find his home destroyed and his wife and two babies killed by a Japanese bomb. My father became a guerrilla fighter. He fought, ate and slept beside the American soldiers who were fighting the common enemy. He fought bravely and felt honored by the Americans when he was presented a helmet to wear in battle, even though some soldier had to die for him to receive it. He still had the helmet at his death. It was one of his most prized possessions.
After the war, he remarried. The union produced eleven children. In each one of us he instilled his respect and admiration for the American soldier. Many Americans died so my country could have its freedom. The Bataan Death March during World War II should never be forgotten. However, if one asks their children about it, they won’t likely have an answer.
Throughout the history of this country, when duty called young men and women laid down their plow lines, left the factories, office, construction sites and answered the call. Too many were left lifeless on the battlefield, many in my own country.
Because of the U.S. soldier, my country experienced freedom, a freedom that allowed a young girl (me) to leave a small village in the Philippines to come to America and enjoy a career in music and experience the American Dream that even our enemies envy.
One of the proudest moments in my life was on December 14, 2000 when I stood before Judge Henry Poliz in Shreveport, Louisiana, raised my right hand, took the oath and became an American citizen.
Memorial Day is my day, a day of respect for those who have died preserving freedom in both my old and new country. Without those whom we gather to remember on Memorial Day, we wouldn’t have a country. God bless every man and woman who dons the uniform and fights the brave fight.
Dee Callicott (D’Ramirz)