Memorial Day serves as a day of remembrance. On this day, while we have plenty of fun on the barbecue and at the beach, we also take time to solemnly remember those who have served us. And as we're remembering our soldiers, we can also remember their canine comrades.
First, a little history behind Memorial Day itself. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was founded after the American Civil War to commemorate those who lost their lives both on the Union and Confederate side. Then, in the 20th century, it was expanded to honor all Americans who have died serving the country.
Dogs began joining soldiers during the Seminole Wars. The American Pit Bull Terrier was used in the Civil War to send messages and protect soldiers and as mascots in war propaganda and recruiting posters.
Over the years, the use of dogs in the war has increased and now all breeds of dogs serve alongside soldiers, helping them sniff out bombs and potential danger.
Our country has realized the crucial key dogs play in keeping our soldiers safe, and in October 2013, the very first National Monument dedicated to military dogs was mounted in San Antonio Texas. It's called the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, and honors the dogs who have served alongside their human soldiers in the war.
John Burman, a Vietnam vet whose inscription is etched into the monument, has written two books about his experience with war dogs. About one of the two dogs he worked with, Clipper, he said, "He saved my life and saved the lives of others by alerting on ambushes, snipers, and booby traps. I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers."
So, this Memorial Day, let's be sure to remember the reason why we have the freedom to go to the beach or have a family party. You can participate in remembrance by observing the National Moment of Remembrance, which occurs at 3 p.m. in local time. At this time, just take a moment of absolute silence to think about all of those who have given their lives, from family to friends to strangers to dogs.