A Syracuse veteran who serve in the Marine Corps for 16 years is urging Central New Yorkers to #gosilent this Memorial Day to remember those lost in combat. Charlie Poag is a member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which is leading the effort. Americans are urged to pledge a full minute of silence at 3:00 pm Monday.
"Turn the TV off. Pause Facebook. Pause Twitter. Just reflect on what we have here in this country and why."
Poag joined the Marines right before September 11, 2001. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 as a combat cameraman, where he’d join the infantry armed with a camera and rifle gathering footage for historical, operational, and intelligence purposes. That same year, he lost a good friend in combat.
"I have a POW/KIA bracelet from him that I wear with me always. His name was Corporal William Salazar. He was a fellow combat cameraman, and he died in Iraq in 2004. He was just a great guy. It's one of those things, whenever I'm getting ready, I put the bracelet on, it has his name, and I vividly see his face. I remember better times with him; I don't really think about the sacrifice or his death."
Poag just hopes people keep in mind the real reason for Memorial Day as they enjoy the long weekend.
"For veterans, Memorial Day definitely has a different meaning. We don't want people to be down or sorrowful over the weekend. We want people to enjoy it and have fun. But we want to remind them that this weekend is here for a reason."
It originally started after the Civil War to recognize the fallen soldiers of that conflict. Since World War One, the day has honored all service members who died in combat. Poag is also a Syracuse University Student and Vice President of the Student Veterans Association. He says he couldn’t think of a better place to be a veteran.