A Day to Remember: American Legion Post 9 honors fallen servicemen with Memorial Day Service
By Samantha Jones
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and retired senior chief petty officer Clint Miller doesn’t want anyone to forget it.
Miller spoke at American Legion Walker-Wilson Post 9’s Memorial Day service on Monday morning, reminding everyone why it’s so important to remember those who have died serving in the military. Those who enter the service fear leaving their family behind, Miller said, but that’s not their biggest fear.
“They are afraid they will be forgotten. They are afraid of being forgotten,” Miller said. “They want to be recognized. They want to be remembered. You don’t have to put their name up on the top of the building. You don’t have to do that. Just remember them. That’s all. Just remember them. It’s a good day to remember them. That’s what we are here for.”
American Legion Post 9 first vice commander Mike Warkentin introduced Miller, saying Miller served 22 years in the Navy. Miller specialized in aerology, meteorology and oceanography before retiring in 2005. Miller moved to Holiday Island in 2006 and is the commander of American Legion Post 36.
Miller said there are many people to thank and remember on Memorial Day.
“We’re celebrating those people that gave everything. What is our job? It’s to remember them,” Miller said. “I want to also recognize another person –– our amazing God for giving his son for the ultimate sacrifice he gave for the forgiveness of our sins. That’s very important today, as every day.”
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, Miller said, and was established by the wives of Confederate soldiers.
“Later on, they were smart enough and Christian enough to invite the Union families along with them, and they celebrated together,” Miller said. “Why not? Look at what they’d just been through and were still going through without a lot of their loved ones around.”
Many people look at Memorial Day as any other day off work, Miller said, where they celebrate by grilling hamburgers and watching sporting events.
“I see nothing wrong with that. I do a lot of that myself, but everyone should stop if only for a few minutes and remember,” Miller said. “Remember why they’re able to go through this day –– this joyous day –– grilling those hot dogs and hamburgers. Remember that freedom those people gave to us. This holiday is deserving of a nation’s respect and much more important than simply grilling hot dogs and watching sports.”
Miller encouraged everyone to imagine being part of a Confederate or Union family traveling many miles to get to a site to celebrate Memorial Day.
“Can you imagine the tears that were shed that day together?” Miller said. “Imagine you were part of that festivity that was going on that day. Is that going on today? Well, the hamburgers and hot dogs are, but I’ve attended a lot of different events … where the people who gave all weren’t even mentioned.”
Memorial Day is not the same thing as Veterans Day, Miller said.
“I have heard many people refer to today like … we’re supposed to be respecting and celebrating all those veterans out here,” Miller said. “No, that is not what today is about. It’s about those veterans that paid the ultimate price.”
Miller remembered being aboard the USS Constellation off the coast of Vietnam, saying he briefed pilots going to shore. He was stopped by a lieutenant one day, Miller said, who asked him to not say anything when he sees an empty chair during the briefings.
“I started looking around the room and I noticed occasionally there was an empty chair,” Miller said. “I didn’t ask any questions. The last word the lieutenant said … he looked at me and said, ‘Remember.’ On this day, I will always reflect back to that
conversation I had with that lieutenant. I knew some people I was briefing may not be coming back.”
Though Memorial Day can be a solemn affair, Miller said, he wants to look at it as a celebration. He recalled speaking at his sister’s funeral two years ago, saying it was a day to celebrate.
“My sister is seeing Jesus right now. What a day to celebrate!” Miller said. “Isn’t it also very important for the people that were believers during all the wars we’ve had … for the believers to be seeing Jesus?”
Miller ended his speech by speaking to all the servicemen who have died at their posts.
“Since you have given it all, I feel the best name for you today is my hero,” Miller said. “You will not be forgotten. May you rest in peace and may God bless your soul.”
American Legion Post 9 hosts the Memorial Day Service every year, Warkentin said, and will be having a special celebration this year. The post celebrates its centennial anniversary on Saturday, June 29. Warkentin thanked everyone who has supported the post, our country’s veterans and those who have died during their service.
“We join in solemn tribute to share our sense of pride under the flag of our nation letting the world know the lengths to which we will go for freedom, liberty and democracy,” Warkentin said.