Under their formal intentions, Memorial Day is to honor those who died in U.S. military service, while Veterans Day in November is set aside to recognize all U.S. military veterans, survivors included. Having never served, it wouldn’t be my place to bend those definitions. 

It was John Starling Staples’ place. 

Staples, who was laid to rest in 2009 in Tallahassee, Florida, earned a Bronze Star as the leader of the Second Bomb Disposal Company, Fleet Marine Force, in the WWII Battle of Iwo Jima. He’d been home from the war for 25 years before Memorial Day was even declared a federal holiday, so he had the right to observe it how he saw fit: with a broader definition.

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