Memorial Day remains a day of solemn remembrance for local Veterans, service members
Published 12:40 am Saturday, May 27, 2023
Memorial Day is synonymous with the beginning of summer; backyard barbecues and trips to the lakes or beach but there’s a more solemn meaning behind the day.
“Most people think it’s a holiday. That has a lot to do with the education we provide our young kids growing up. We need to remind everyone that Memorial Day is to remember those who gave their last full measure and died on the battlefield,” said Jorg Kitchen, VFW Assistant State Adjutant, District 2 and VFW Post 4820 Commander.
Kitchen is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served from 1983 to 2000. He was stationed statewide as well as overseas, having spent two tours in Germany with the First Armored Division and First Infantry Division and was also deployed with the infantry from 1996 to 2000 in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Kitchen said those wanting to honor the fallen can do so by visiting a cemetery and cleaning off the graves of veterans.
Another way is to attend a Memorial Day ceremony. Many cities hold these ceremonies before and on Memorial Day.
Ceremonies such as this one are dwindling as the older veterans are dying due to age.
The VFW Post will hold a ceremony at Oak Bluff Memorial Park at 11 a.m. Monday.
Kitchen calls the WWII veterans the greatest generation.
“I always say they’re the greatest generation for a reason. They grew up in some very tough times,” he said, adding the generation had morals, strong belief and strong family core. “They had all the right stuff, so to speak.”
It was during this period of time that the nation as a whole came together, opposite of what is going on in today’s world with the division caused by trivial issues, he said.
Kitchen divides his time locally and in Austin as VFW Assistant State Adjutant. His passions to bring awareness to are suicide prevention and the retirement of flags.
“Suicide prevention hits pretty close to home,” he said. “22 a day. We lose 22 to 23 veterans a day. That’s a statistical number you’ll hear a lot and it’s kind of become like an annoying ringing bell.”
While at the capitol he heard this number tossed around along with percentages and talk of how to get the medical examiner or doctor to provide information on veterans who passed by suicide so they can have more accurate numbers.
“Everything was about numbers and not about the veterans that are committing suicide. It infuriated me,” he said.
So Kitchen registered to speak on the topic at the capitol. At the podium he went straight to the point.
“I’m a 22-a-day survivor. I’m not a number and I’m not a statistic. That was how I opened. We don’t need statistical data. What we need are veteran counselors, vets who know.”
A non-military therapist does not share the same experiences as a veteran.
“Veterans will not talk to a clinician about suicidal thoughts because they can’t relate to that person and are not comfortable in the office. It’s like a man trying to relate to a woman on how to give birth to a child,” he said.
According to military.com, Memorial Day is observed the last Monday in May and honors those who lost their lives wile in service to the U.S.
The day of remembrance originally honored the Civil War dead but now honors all services members who died in peace and war.
This also includes, according to the website, the 12 major wars the U.S. has fought in addition to other conflicts.