Remembering our veterans on Memorial Day


In the US, we remember the men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces.

It's called Memorial Day and it is a federal holiday which means no work and for most Americans, an extended vacation.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave even to those unknown to them.

Over the years Memorial Day also included those who were retired and those who are still in the service. A lot of times my husband Ronnie, who served in the US Army for five years and US Air Force reserve two years would be asked: Did you serve in the military sir?

He would answer yes, then the person asking the question would say “Thank you for serving the country.” Often times the one asking the question would engage Ronnie in a long conversation about grandfathers and brothers serving in the military as well.

Freebies are also given to retired military personnel. And I am awed by this patriotic gesture. I guess I am nationalistic then and am always reminded of the soldiers and cops who died in the service.

The singing of the American national anthem during the times when they honor the men and women in uniform give me goosebumps.

I don’t have a family member back in the Philippines who served in the military but I‘ve got friends who have family and friends who do and did and I am proud of them.

I thought and wondered; if the living veterans were forgotten, how much more those that went ahead in this life? We all have this sense of nationalism that gets roused from time to time. For me, it's looking at the veterans and hearing the national anthem, both Philippine and American.

My sense of nationalism was awakened when I heard Rommel Olarte leading the Pambansang Awit in the recent Flores de Mayo celebration here in Charlotte.

Rommel Olarte is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy who loves singing. His rendition of the Philippine national anthem reminded me of how we Filipinos treat our soldiers back home. Rommel graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1994 (a military school built by the US in 1905). As a cadet, he was in charge of the band, Men in Grey (MIG).

His band of four years performed in different musical events such as Rock Against Drugs at the Baguio Convention Center in 1991. He was a member of the choir and glee club and performed at the televised Concert at the Park in Intramuros, Manila.

Rommel was also chosen as one of two Academy men to wax the multi-voice recordings for a documentary film. He was one of the lucky former soldiers who made a better life for himself in the US.

I have noticed old or retired soldiers roaming the streets of Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental in northern Mindanao, Philippines where I used to live and they seem faded and lacking in care and attention.

One veteran I saw in my mind wore a faded uniform. Nobody is taking care of them, let alone be interested in what they did for the country. I hope and pray that Filipinos, like the Americans, take care of their aging veterans and pay homage to what they did to liberate the country from oppression.

(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas. Visit and read her website at Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the These and other articles also appear at

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