Next Monday is Memorial Day, and Americans will be contemplating how to enjoy our national holiday as they listen to and read the advertisements from the business community beckoning them to buy their wares with “Memorial Day specials.” Yet few of these solicitors will give back any proceeds to the families of the fallen or to any patriotic organization.

There will be parades and memorial celebrations across our fruited plains, including the annual awe-inspiring parade, with patriotic music and speeches at the World War I Liberty Memorial. I have had the honor to speak at the event and to look out past the families and relatives of the participants and see those empty chairs and wonder: “Where are all the citizens?” It ends up veterans talking to veterans.

Those missing citizens should have been with me last Saturday with 13 American Gold Star Mothers and Families at the Armed Forces Day celebration at Zona Rosa. Each told of their loss to a concerning, pensive audience. Following a flag-folding ceremony, the color guard presented them the colors with the words they have heard before: “On behalf of a grateful nation.”

I then read my Memorial Day video poem, available on YouTube, about a soldier who wants to be remembered with a simple request” “Please play taps for me.”

I never made it. I tried, we all did. Oh, that ugly face of war I hope you never see. I felt a higher quest Among my generation. That uniform and flag Seemed to be calling me. I’m no one special But I proudly served. And I was there. My country tis of thee. A fighter, defender A number, a name But it felt good to know, They really needed me. I give my all That last full measure Now deeply carved On our family tree. I see old men in uniforms My mother, wife and son And a man with a book Praying over me. Ah, to rest at Arlington But they knew I rather lie On precious hometown soil, For my family to see. And so my day is done, But before I go, While I’m no one special, Please play taps for me.

Meanwhile, regrettably, some 2,178 of our military have been added to he column of dead in that never-ending war in Afghanistan.

Lest we forget.

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.

Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at Reach him at