A Singular Effort
Paying tribute to our veterans on Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a tough holiday to celebrate, but that's what many of us will do this weekend whether it be with a cookout or by taking a short vacation to celebrate the start of summer.
Think about that first word: memorial.
America was born fighting a war. In war, people die. It's a sad fact. From 1775 to 1991, almost 42 million Americans served during wartime and 1,190,085 died in service during that time, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Fast forward to the "Global War on Terrorism," which has been marked since Oct. 7, 2001 — the day we attacked al Qaeda in Afghanistan — and 6,442 men and women have died as of May 21, 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
That's 1,196,527 brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who died for their country. It's a colossal figure symbolic of a gargantuan effort to keep the peace — or at least preserve the American way of life.
Yet each of them represents a singular effort to serve their country, to protect and provide for their family, or simply to earn a living.
This Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, will mark the first anniversary of the day 2007 Theodore Roosevelt High School graduate Adam Hamilton died while serving in Afghanistan. On Memorial Day 2011, Hamilton's body returned to U.S. soil for the last time.
How do we memorialize the singular sacrifices of Hamilton and those like him?
Monday, the city will officially dedicate a section of S.R. 43 in front of the high school as a memorial in his honor.
We so often name highways in honor of veterans. It's a practice that is somewhat ironic, and perhaps fitting, considering the Federal Highway Act of 1956 stemmed in part from the need to allow quick movement of massive amounts of troops and equipment in time of war.
But that's not the only way the Kent community honors and remembers Hamilton. So many in Kent have dedicated their combined efforts to the memory of Adam Hamilton.
This weekend, members of the SPC Crossfit gym held their annual "Hammy WOD" work-out fundraiser at Dix Stadium. Hamilton was a member at the gym during his leave and his father, Scott Hamilton, also works out at the gym. Money raised supports the Adam Hamilton Memorial Academic and Athletic Scholarship Fund, established by his parents at Portage Community Bank.
This year, members of the Kent Roosevelt Men's Lacrosse team dedicated their season in honor of the former lacrosse stand-out.
Last summer, the Kent State Veterans Club hosted its First Annual Adam Hamilton Scholarship Fund Memorial Corn Hole Tournament.
Conversations about memorializing Hamilton, before the street dedication, led to the establishment of a veterans memorial at the PARTA transit center downtown.
Proof, individual inspiration can motivate a community.
As I write this, I sit on my back patio sipping coffee, listening to bird song and enjoying the shade of a maple tree. I can do this thanks to the more than 42 million Americans who have served and the 1.2 million who have died.
It's OK to celebrate on Memorial Day. Just remember to take a single moment to honor the millions who dedicated their lives — and ultimately their deaths — so that you can.