Debbie Lee, mother of the first Navy SEAL to give his life in Iraq, spoke at Ed Young Jr.'s Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, on Sunday, urging greater education on the meaning of Memorial Day and for congregants to reach out to Gold Star families.
Lee's son, Marc Alan Lee, was the first Navy SEAL killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom in August of 2006. Lee was killed in Ramadi while exposing himself to enemy fire as a medical team evacuated a wounded Navy SEAL. Lee was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.
"I've been on a campaign for probably eight or nine years to try and educate people about Memorial Day," Lee declared. "Memorial Day is not Veterans Day. It is not Armed Forces Day. This is not the time we corporatlly or nationally recognize our veterans that served. more >>
Memorial Day, a federal holiday since 1967, originated from the American Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead. During the early 20th century the occassion has been extended to recognize all Americans who have sacrificed their life during military conflict. Below are five memorable Memorial Day speeches in American history.
1. Ronald Reagan's Remarks on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetary, 1982.
Reagan, known as "The Great Communicator," concluded his remarks with a challenge: "Earlier today, with the music that we have heard and that of our National Anthem – I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask." more >>
Terror group ISIS has executed at least 400 people, mostly women and children, in the city of Palmyra since it was captured last week, Syrian state television has said. Hundreds of others have been captured and face a similar fate, according to a human rights agency.
"The terrorists have killed more than 400 people ... and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders," The Independent quoted the state news agency on Sunday, noting that most of the dead are women and children.
Residents have said that the hundreds of bodies that littered the streets of the ancient city are victims from groups loyal to the government, which is engaged in a civil war both against ISIS and other rebel groups trying to overthrow it. more >>
The mental plight of American servicemen returning home from war zones has been well documented by various groups and news organizations. Politicians and activists alike have noted the high rates of suicide and substance abuse among veterans, mentally wounded by their experiences overseas.
In the United States, there are many churches and faith-based organizations that are seeking to help returning veterans cope with life after combat.
One group is known as the Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs and was founded by veteran and MMA fighter Chad Robichaux. One church affiliated with Mighty Oaks is The Life Church, a Virginia congregation with campuses in Manassas and Winchester. more >>
Washington National Cathedral held its annual "Blessing of the Bikes" on Friday for members of Rolling Thunder as they arrived at the nation's capital to honor fallen veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces on Memorial Day.
Ruth Frey, director of programs at Washington National Cathedral, told The Christian Post that "Rolling Thunder¹s presence at the Cathedral reminds us all we cannot fully recognize and honor the living without also remembering those who have been lost."
"This event with Rolling Thunder is part of the Cathedral's ongoing initiative to recognize and pay tribute to veterans, to offer a sacred space for spiritual healing, and to educate the civilian public about the experience of veterans and the challenges they and their families face when returning home," said Frey. more >>
President Barack Obama has said that despite recent setbacks, such as ISIS capturing the city of Ramadi in Iraq, the United States is not losing in the war against the terror group. Obama admitted, however, that there have been flaws in the U.S.'s approach to the conflict, which he said will be a "multi-year" campaign.
"I don't think we're losing," Obama told The Atlantic in an interview days after the fall of Ramadi.
"There's no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.They have been there essentially for a year without sufficient reinforcements, and the number of ISIL [ISIS] that have come into the city now are relatively small compared to what happened in [the Iraqi city of] Mosul." more >>