I was left with confusion and questions regarding the headline "Honoring the fallen: Memorial Day 2020" and the articles' two-paragraph “editor's note” on Page A10 of the May 21, 2020. Star-Observer issue. The sentence "Printed here are the names of area veterans who died for our country" definitely skews the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances and holidays.
While it is always appropriate to honor those men and women who served and are serving in the United States Armed Services, Memorial Day is very specific in honoring those who were killed or died from direct military actions of a hostile nature. Veterans Days is a date, always Nov. 11, to honor all who honorably served in any of the military branches and includes both living veterans plus all veterans who have died, regardless of whether their death was related to hostile activity or not.
For example, I honor my Vietnam squad member Juan Rivera, killed by a B-40 rocket on Feb. 4, 1969, in Vietnam especially on Memorial Day, just as I again honor him, plus my father, sister, son, cousins and brothers-in-law on Veterans Day. Other than Juan, all served but returned from military service.
A third “honoring” holiday, Armed Forces Day, is designed to praise those actively serving in the military branches, but not yet discharged.
My intent is not to belittle the efforts of Star-Observer staff and others who compiled the lists of deceased veterans. However, relatively few from the list actually died under the circumstances for which Memorial Day is intended. I honor, always, all veterans and current service members, but I would not like to see the distinct differences between the three honoring holidays to be further misunderstood.
Thank you, all citizens, for keeping veterans like myself and Juan in your hearts and memories.
Past chair of the Wisconsin State Board of Veterans Affairs