The Wichita Falls Police Department today Monday, May 25 offered everyone a happy Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have died in service of the United States of America, according to Jeff Hughes. With all the major events occurring during this weekend it’s easy to forget the reason for it. When one turns on the television during this three-day weekend there’s the Indianapolis 500, major league baseball, NBA basketball, the Colonial golf tournament, the Monaco Grand Prix Formula One race, the Coca Cola 600 and countless other events to compete for our thoughts and attention.
In Wichita Falls especially, there’s been the historic flood continuing over Memorial Day which has driven many from their homes. The four-year drought coming to an end has been cause for great celebration. And the fact the flood apparently won’t be quite as damaging as was projected also is a basis for relief.
But without the service of the men and women in the armed forces during World War I and War II we likely would not have a Lake Arrowhead, a Lake Kickapoo, a Lake Wichita or a Wichita River to even worry about. People from the other countries who sought to destroy the Allies would be in control of the water supply and making the decisions our current city council is making about whether we should be in Stage 5, Stage 3 or some other designation.
The decision by General Dwight Eisenhower to invade Normandy and the willingness of the countless thousands to face enemy fire as they landed on the beaches is the reason we have our own elected Mayor Glen Barham and our freely-elected city council to make decisions for us in the midst of the drought and the flood. Who knows who would be in charge and making those decisions if American soldiers had not sacrificed their lives at Iwo Jima and countless other places around the globe?
Memorial Day was actually established after the Civil War and based on a desire to honor our dead. Officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, it was originally called Decoration Day. Logan said as follows: “The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
The date of decoration to which he referred was chosen because at the time it didn’t fall on the date of any particular battle. General James Garfield presented a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day and 5,000 citizens decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. New York was the first state to recognize the event in 1873.
It was not until after World War I that the holiday was changed from honoring only those who died in the Civil War to include those who were killed fighting in any war. It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday of May.
It’s probably only appropriate the WFPD posted an all clear notice in regard to the flood on Memorial Day this year. The WFPD issued a statement as follows: “Residents of Wichita Falls are advised the threat for potential large-scale flooding along and on either side of the Wichita River have subsided. Residents can begin re-entry into the affected areas. There is still some water on the roads and residents are advised not to drive through standing water. Residents may need to park their vehickle and walk to their homes. The City of Wichita Falls has revoked the evacuation order for those residents. Residents may also call 211 for information or the Emergency Operations Center at 761-7909.
People of Wichita Falls, Texas should be grateful to the men and women of the WPFD and the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office for performing so well to protect the lives of thousands of Wichitans and their property during this time of testing.
It was only Wednesday when Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel referred to the Wichita Falls flood as the most serious weather event in the nation.
The sacrifices of the countless men and women in military service who gave their lives so we could even be here today should be remembered. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. We should remember the brave men and women who made our history possible.