Friday, May 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Cabot reflects on Memorial Day

Leader staff writer

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) reflected on the importance of Memorial Day during the Cabot American Legion Post 71’s ceremony Monday at the National Guard Armory.

Griffin said many elected officials who speak at Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies try to say things new and differently.

“The point is not to break new ground. It is to say the same thing over and over again. There is a power in repetition and repeated acknowledgement of the sacrifice of those who served and paid the ultimate price,” Griffin said.

Griffin said his dad is a pastor and he had to sit through sermons when he was growing up. Griffin would tell his dad he didn’t hear anything new. Griffin said, looking back on that, the point was not to hear something new, but the same gospel repeatedly until the pieces are taken to heart.

“The point is not to do a new ceremony. It is to do the same thing we always do. The reason is to thank those who paid the ultimate price — to honor them. We must expand that to those parts of the team who went to fight. That team is the family,” Griffin said.

Griffin said he served in Iraq in 2006 and left his wife behind during that time. He said everyone knows individual stories of hardships that families go through when the families are down range or out to sea.

“Just think how much harder it is to deal with when they never see their loved ones return. That’s what Memorial Day is all about,” Griffin said.

Griffin also talked about the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Veterans Day honors all veterans, he said. Memorial Day is special because it is about the veterans who gave their lives for our freedoms.

“When you think about the impact on families, you have to include them in the reminder. They bear so much of the burden. They are the ones we are faced with when we see them after they’ve lost a loved one, at church or a store. We have an obligation to them to make sure we do whatever we can to help them through that.

“Not just after it occurs, or six months, but year after year. We cannot know what they personally are going through. We must always on Memorial Day include the family and loved ones who are left behind and that sacrifice that they have endured,” Griffin said.

Griffin brought his 4-year-old son, John, to the ceremony. The boy sat next to him on the dais and stood with him during his speech.

“If I don’t tell him what Memorial Day is, how is he going to know? Is he going to be taught at school? Maybe, maybe not. Is he going to get it from pop culture, from the songs he listens to when he gets older? Probably not. TV, probably not,” the congressman said.

Griffin said it is up to the veterans to teach the young folks and teenagers. Most are not going to choose to serve in the military, he noted.

“If we leave it to some magic force to teach them, they may never find out, never know, fully understand. I would encourage folks to take the risks of whether (their children) will behave or not and bring them. I believe it is important to see the reverence given to the flag, the missing and the service of those who serve in uniform and their families. It is important for the families to know that some people care so much about this country that they were willing to give their lives,” Griffin continued.

“If we don’t teach them, no one else will. We can’t always count on the veteran service organizations. I’m not the one they are trying to reach. A lot of these organizations do not have a lot of young people in them,” Griffin said.

He worries about his American Legion Post in Little Rock not existing in 20 years.

“I’m one of the old guys now. When I look around for the 20-somethings, there may be one,” Griffin said.

He said the (service organizations) are obligated to be the ambassadors to those who do not understand. Griffin said they can start with their own families and then the community. “If we don’t pass it on, no one will,” he said.

The Memorial Day ceremony, “is a poignant reminder that this has to be done every year, every day, all the time, lest we take it for granted,” he said.