Kesley Colbert
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More than just a picture on the wall

I’m telling you, I am trying with all my might to get out of the writing business, but things just keep popping up that need to be said. And I will admit, this one is my own fault. For reading the New York Times!

And please don’t listen to the anger in my voice. I am supposed to be doing fluffy, pastoral, lemonade-on-the-front-porch, apple pie, motherhood, and baseball stories. It’s not my nature to tell anyone how to live their life…. mostly because I haven’t exactly set any track records with my own.

The New York Times ran a story on Sunday, May 26, with this opening paragraph, “Memorial Day is a starting gun. While other holidays can be like a finish line – the culmination of so much energy – Memorial Day marks the beginning. The whole summer stretches out in front of us, a track shimmering in the sun.”

I’ve got news for that newspaper and maybe for a few other folks, too. Memorial Day doesn’t mark the beginning of anything! It is not some kind of directional signal. Nor is it a seasonal beacon. It has nothing to do with where you are going, where you’ve been, or how you intend to spend the upcoming summer.

It has everything to do with brave young American men and women who have laid face down in the dirt and died for this nation!

Look up Dr. Joseph Warren. He was one of the first heroes to give his last full measure. John and Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock came to him for advice. He left four young children behind… and an unlimited future in that time and place. He was 34 years old when he fell. And our nation didn’t have an official name, flag, capital, president, or state at the time.

That is a love for this country that surpasses all understanding.

Fast forward to David Miller’s 24-acre cornfield on Sept. 17, 1862. You are not far from Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Hundreds of American soldiers were killed in that cornfield before the fog lifted. By noon, the death toll was in the thousands. The Battle of Antietam is a single day’s most costly battle in terms of casualties (dead, wounded, and missing) in U. S. history.

Private Edward Carroll of Battery D, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, was stationed with his unit just north of Miller’s killing field, busily providing covering fire to the advancing troops. An enemy barrage from a long-range cannon silenced his world forever. He left his parents, a brother and sister, and, I pray, a nation to mourn for him.

Edward Carroll was six days shy of his 17th birthday.

We lost 2,335 soldiers at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Seamen First Class Milton Homer Kennington and his older brother, Charles Cecil, went down with the Arizona. They were from Humboldt, Tennessee. And their mother, till the day she drew her last breath, never tired of telling stories about their shenanigans growing up… to my Mother!

The death toll at Guadalcanal was over 7,000. Iwo Jima, an island we decided to take late in World War II cost us 6,821 lives. Another 4,599 Americans died in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter in Korea in 1950. The death toll in the Tet Offensive in Vietnam cost us 3,178 lives.

I could go on but you hear me. Every one of these heroes had a name… and a story just as compelling as Joseph Warren, Edward Carroll, or the Kennington brothers. Just because we didn’t “see them off” as they left the bus station doesn’t mean they never existed.

I don’t believe the New York Times, or at least one writer there, understands the personal nature of all that permeates Memorial Day.

Of course, I am in the minority here. Almost everyone today would agree that the “holiday” does kick off the summer season. Everything from rental houses to hamburger prices seems to go up between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

I wish they’d use June 1 as their starting day. Or the Summer Solstice. Or Maypole Day. Or two fortnights after Easter. Or the first Monday after the third Tuesday in May…. 

I don’t want anything to interfere with the honor, respect, admiration, love, and gratitude owed to each one of our fallen heroes. 

We are a fortunate nation to have such warriors caring for us! 

I don’t count this as a Memorial Day story. I think it’s more about what is right about our country today, and where, possibly, we can improve a mite. I’ve never questioned anyone’s patriotism. You can see it bursting forth from sea to shining sea.

I do, however, wish we’d prioritize things a bit better. You know, pause a moment and realize who REALLY paid for your opportunity to raise that beach umbrella, who REALLY made that weekend barbeque outing possible, who REALLY cleared the road ahead for you so you don’t worry about anything but having the time of your life.

And from now on I’m going to limit my newspaper reading to the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the St. Joe Star. 



Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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