This past Monday, May 31, was Memorial Day. This is the day set aside to honor those who lost their lives in our nation’s armed forces. It’s a day that deserves our respect and reflection.
For too many people in our country these days, it seems like the United States is a bad guy, irredeemably racist and a danger to the world. For others, Memorial Day is nothing more than a day off from work and the unofficial start of the summer season.
I would like to remind all of you about Eddie May and what the United States and the other Allies were facing early in 1942. The United States had become involved in World War II later than most other nations. It was four years between when the Japanese invaded China and the attack on Pearl Harbor of Dec. 7, 1941. By then, Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union and their forces were close to Moscow and had laid siege to Leningrad. The British were barely holding on, largely due to support from the Americans.
May was a 1937 graduate of Parker High who was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was based in the Philippines, and the situation there was dire. American and Filipino forces were outnumbered and outgunned. In particular, Japanese aircraft were superior in numbers and quality to what the Americans could send up against them.
Yet, the Americans and Filipinos fought, and they fought hard. May was shot down and killed on Feb. 2, 1942, the first person from Parker to be killed in World War II.
May’s family donated the land on which Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7061 was built. When the post opened in 1945, it was named in his honor.
Why did May and so many others over the generations fight for this nation? It was because so many of them believed this nation was worth fighting for. We have always stood for certain ideals, even if we haven’t lived up to them ourselves. Those who served in our armed forces believed in this nation and loved it, warts and all.
A while back, I met an official from the Census Bureau who was from Haiti. He told me he thought all Americans should spend at least a year living in a third-world country. He said that would help them to appreciate what they had in the United States.
Imagine that. A Black man from a foreign country expressing his appreciation for the United States of America. Maybe some of the activists need to listen to this man.
America is a work in progress. This is not the same country it was 20 years ago, and it won’t be the same country 20 years from now. We may never reach the Promised Land the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of, but we will always be striving to reach it.
I hope that, going forward, you will recognize and remember the people like Eddie May and so many others. They helped us get to where we are today and where we will be in the future. If you choose to strive to make changes in this nation, I hope you will do it out of love for your fellow Americans and a desire to make this nation greater than it already is.
We should always remember those who gave their lives for this nation, and to honor them by trying to be the best Americans and human beings that we can be.