Honoring both the living and the dead
June 1, 2023
When Memorial Day begins at midnight, all American flags and state flags across the country are lowered to half-staff. At noon, the flags are referred to full staff.
"I think it's important for people to realize that both people are honored, the living and the dead," Barry Tippy said, explaining the first half of the holiday recognizes the dead, while the second half of the day is for the living.
Both the living and dead were recognized and honored during a ceremony at Riverview Cemetery Monday morning, which was hosted by American Legion Tom Whitmore Post 28 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2321. Tippy, the owner of Red White Buffalo and a veteran, was one of the speakers during the ceremony.
Celebrating and remembering both the living and the dead on Memorial Day was one of the topics Tippy wanted to emphasize.
"People seem to forget that," he said. "We get wrapped up in barbecues and three-day weekends and going to the lake and sales."
Having holidays like Memorial Day and specifically taking time to remember the meaning of the day is important "so people never forget that what they have isn't given, it's earned and it's paid for in blood by other people, by brave men and women," Tippy said.
While considering what to say in his speech, Tippy thought back to other speeches he's heard from officers and generals. However, he specifically noted that he's neither of those, and he wanted his comments to be different.
"When generals give speeches in cemeteries, they talk about honor, duty, God, country," Tippy said. "But the individual military member does what they do out of love and the bond to the person on the left and the right of them. It's not all those grandiose terms, it's literally about love."
Men and women who crawl across battlefields under machine gun fire or reach into a burning Humvee to pull out someone inside do so because of the love they have for those by their side.
"You have two families," Tippy said. "You have your biological family and then you have a military family, your brothers and sisters in arms."
According to Tippy, the bond veterans share is unique and hard to explain, lasting across space and time and staying as strong as ever. If you haven't experienced it, it's hard to fully understand. The same is true of the sacrifices made by both those who serve and those who they leave behind.
"I don't know if there is something that you can do to understand," Tippy said honestly.
Trying to think of ways people could try to understand these sacrifices, Tippy said you would have to lock yourself in a room for a full year and miss every holiday, every birthday, every anniversary, every birth of a child, every graduation. That might give a small taste of some of the sacrifices that military members and their families make.
Tippy has experienced these sacrifices from both sides, having served in the military himself and having one of his sons serve in the army.
While it is hard for those who haven't experienced it to truly understand, Tippy noted that our current society is making progress in efforts to try to understand the significance of the sacrifice and to honor it.
"This area, I think, knows it better than anywhere else," he added, noting there are many veterans from Wyoming, and that Green River does an especially good job of supporting and honoring them.
One example Tippy pointed out is the "name streets" which were named after World War II veterans, who all have their photos and stories shared in City Hall.
"As a community, there's quite a bit of support for veterans," Tippy said.
This support was seen on Memorial Day, when not only veterans but also community members with no connections to the military showed up to the ceremony to show their support and pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.