A Time to Reflect: How the Staples Community Personalizes Memorial Day

Hero (noun): “An illustrious warrior; one who shows great courage; a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, that is the definition of a hero.

There are few people who can truly be considered heroes; however, soldiers are among those few.

It’s a national holiday in which the population commemorates the loss of soldiers fighting for the United States.

Yet, sometimes Memorial Day is seen as a day off of school to enjoy the early signs of summer.

“I think it’s an important holiday, but in the modern day, people are often too busy to stop and to celebrate,” said Jessica Ellison ’13.

Ellison, along with Griffin Thrush ’15, sometimes find other instances to remember the soldiers.

“I think about soldiers during Veteran’s Day because the school often recognizes it in some way, and while at war memorials like the Tomb of the Unknown Solider,” Ellison said.

Although Memorial Day may be a holiday that sometimes slips the minds of students, it is still considered important.  Thrush believes that even though the holiday is very overlooked, it is still very significant.

Tom Armas, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, and a friend of Assistant Principal Richard Franzis, has been deployed to Iraq three times and is one example of why Memorial Day should be celebrated.  Armas was interviewed on Good Morning Staples on May 24.

Armas risked his life and saved multiple lives , on 9/11 just before the north tower collapsed.  According to an account documented on Youtube, he was awarded a Navy Marine Corps Medal for these heroic actions.  Armas, along with the multitude of other soldiers and veterans who put their own safety at risk in order to ensure the safety of the people, are heros.

Staples Assistant Principal Richard Franzis, a colonel in the Army Reserve, believes that Memorial Day is an important day for people to recognize. In past years, it has received more publicity due to United States involvement in war, he said.

Franzis has been in the Army Reserve for 30 years and in 2007, was sent to Iraq for one year.  While it is good for all people to acknowledge the importance of Memorial Day, Franzis believes that seeing soldiers fight and die around you shows the real significance of the holiday.

“When you’re up close and personal, when you see young men and women die in combat, and when you see young promising lives cut off way too soon,” Franzis said, “it makes you reflect on how you owe it to the [soldiers] to live your life well.”

Franzis believes it is important that Memorial Day not be a day of sadness but instead a time to reflect and live life to the fullest.

There are many different opinions on whether or not U.S. involvement in wars is just; however, students and administrators alike agree that the question should not take away from the purpose of Memorial Day.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t make [the soldier’s] sacrifice any less honorable,” Franzis said.

Thrush agrees that, “it’s important to recognize soldiers and veterans who defend us.”

Memorial Day is meant to honor those who sacrifice their lives for the safety of Americans.

On Memorial Day, Franzis takes time to “think about all of the young lives cut short and the dreams never realized.”

He remembers for all of the lives that were cut short while defending America.

“To many of us, they were just a statistic, but every one of them left a family landscape tragically altered forever,” Franzis said. “I really think about how unbearable the conditions were under which these American died and how small most of our daily troubles truly are when you give a moment to reflect on all that these folks gave.”

Bill Wilkes, a math teacher at Staples, also served for the U.S. and has thoughts similar to Franzis regarding Memorial Day.

“I think of the brave men and women who have fought to preserve our way of life,” Wilkes said.  “I had many friends in the service who did not make it back from the first or second Gulf Wars and think of them often. Some that did make it back will never be the same, and the results have had detrimental effects on them and their families. I think good wishes for all of them.”

Memorial Day is meant to be an important holiday recognizing the valiant soldiers who risk their lives for their country, all agreed.  It is an important day for students, among their teachers, to simply remember.

“It’s really a great day to do some reflection,” Franzis said, “to slow down, and stop thinking about things that aren’t really important.  It puts things in perspective.”