For many, Memorial Day means the beginning of the summer season where cookouts and pool parties abound. For some, it means taking a few moments to remember those members of our military who died serving their country, or perhaps visiting the grave-sites of loved ones who've passed on before us, whether they were enlisted in the U.S. Military or not.
What most of us do not think about are all of the canine heroes who have served this country, right alongside their human companions, for decades.
Even though evidence suggests canines were used in combat as far back as the eighteenth century B.C., the United States didn't officially begin using them until 1942. Dogs even played an active rule on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
They were reportedly panicked at the sounds of battle surrounding them, but once they got to their duty serving as sentries on the battle lines, they were said to be more alert than their human counterparts.
In June 2006, the United States War Dogs Memorial (see photo above) was dedicated to fallen canine heroes - past, present, and future. Featuring a Vietnam War veteran and his dog, this monument guards the entrance to the Vietnam War Veterans' Memorial in Holmdel, N.J. it stands as a poignant and touching testament to the appreciation and honor we all feel to those who unselfishly serve—human and canine alike.
If you won't be in New Jersey anytime soon, you should visit the U.S. War Dog Association's Wall of Honor—a loving virtual memorial devoted to honoring those true canine heroes who played an integral part in U.S. Military operations all around the globe. Truly, these canine troops may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.
This Memorial Day, while you're enjoying your summer, take an extra moment to smile a "thank you" to the furry soldiers who have helped protect your freedom to celebrate. If donating is up your alley, consider showing your appreciation by donating to U.S. War Dogs K-9 Care, an organization that sends care packages to U.S. military working dogs and their handlers. (And don't forget the families of our fallen human soldiers.
Click here to learn about military widows and how you can help.)