Submission by Angel Munoz:
"My name is Angel Munoz, I am a veteran of the United States Army, and this is my survivors story. I am not only a veteran but I am both a Gold Star and Blue Star sister. I have two brothers who are Iraq War, Marine Corps Veterans. I also have a brother, Spc. Robert Ray Arsiaga, who was KIA 04/04/2004 along with 7 other soldiers. One of those soldiers was my brother's best friend, Spc. Israel Garza of Lubbock, TX.
Memorial Day at different points in my life has meant different things. Before 1996 it was a day we would get off of work or school. A national holiday where we would BBQ and spend time with family. We were told that it was a day to honor those members of the military who sacrificed their lives. After that and before April 2004, it would soon become a day where I would remember my friends, family and brothers who served in the military with me. I now understood just a little more of the significance of the day. After April 4, 2004, the day by little brother Spc. Robert Ray Arsiaga and 7 other men were killed in Sadr City, Iraq. That forever seared in my mind and heart the true meaning of memorial day. Now my family learned the magnitude of th sacrifice and the full cost of war. A day that changed our lives forever.
Now on Memorial Day we get to do quite a few things. we wake up and hit the streets to watch the Memorial Day, motorcycle honor ride. Every year since my brother's death, we stand out there and watch as thousands of riders and veterans honor, not only my brother, but the sacrifice of countless others, too numerous to count. Secondly, we go out to the cemetery, where my brother lies and release balloons in rememberance of the life we have come to miss so much and the sacrifice we have come to respect as a military family. We also visit the graves of my great uncle Maximo Munoz and that of my grandfather Modesto Munoz. They both served in WWII. Lastly, we enjoy the precious time we have with the family and friends that still remain.
I want everyone to know that Memorial Day is not just about the days off, BBQ'S, and parties. I want them to know that it is about the men and women who wear the uniform of our great military, the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who lost life protecting each other and the very freedom our country stands for. I would like for them to take time our of their busy days and go to a memorial wall or cemetery and take in the realization that so many have died to protect our very right to live and to live free.
There are two days reserved for the nation to remember our men and women in uniform. Those days are Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Although the same in some aspects they are also very different. Veteran's Day is about remembering those service members who came back home, those who carry the memories and horrors of war. Those who seen the blood shed no matter the campaign. Those who bore witness to the deaths of their friends, no not friends, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!!!! Memorial Day is about those no longer with us. Some were young, old, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, lovers, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. No sacrifice greater than the other because through it all many hearts were broken and lives were changed forever. Both days have one thing in common.... TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT ALL GAVE SOME AND SOME GAVE ALL. God bless every single last one of them and the families left behind."