“Happy Memorial Day,” I hear people say. Yet, do most who are non-veterans really understand what Memorial Day commemorates? Do they recognize the importance or significance of a day that is to honor their fellow Americans who have been killed in war?
Though I’ve not served in a war, this much I do know: Memorial Day is a sacred day. And anyone who has served in a war does not need this reminder for every day is a memorial day for them.
As a veteran, it is my duty to remind you that the sacrifice others have made is meaningless if you do not take the time to remember them. We must, as a nation, recall and be keenly aware of those who have died to protect our freedoms of citizenship.
This day seems to have morphed over the years to become, to most Americans, another day off-a three- or four-day weekend to over-indulge, over-extend, and pull the covers over their eyes rather than soberly look at the sacrifices that have made for them so they have the freedom to do all of these things. They have turned it into a party that has absolutely nothing to do with honoring our country’s fallen men and women in uniform.
For the most part, it seems that this nation now takes the freedom we all enjoy and has forgotten that there were others who agreed to walk through death’s door to pay for that freedom. But when we honor our war dead, it is a way to preserve their service, sacrifice and memory. We have an obligation to continue to remember them all so that this nation continues to do so for the generations that will follow when we are long gone.
Those who have lain down their lives came from all parts of this country-big cities, rural areas, coastal towns, Midwest, deep south, etc.-and they came from all backgrounds-blue collar, white collar, educated, uneducated, men, women, all races, and all creeds. Yet the bond that tied them all together was the loyalty to this country. They loved their country and its citizens enough to serve, even when not always in agreement with the whys, and wherefores. They became a band of brothers and sisters–a mish-mash of diversity in culture, education, experience, and gender-to show the world that they were united in their loyalty to the values for which this country was built.
We must remember those we have lost…those we have loved…those who have sacrificed their lives for those who would live long after they were gone. Let them be gone, but not forgotten.
Teach others the importance of remembering these heroes. Take the time with your family and friends to honor and pay a special tribute to these military members who cared enough about your freedom to lay down their lives for you.
It may be as simple as taking that minute of silence at 3:00 p.m. wherever you are to think about your freedom. Or you could place small flags at the gravesites of fallen soldiers. Attend a parade. Support those organizations that put together programs to honor our veterans. There are so many ways you can do this individually or as a group.
This is not an old-fashioned tradition that we can forget. This is as pertinent today as ever, because we have Americans serving in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve lost more than 5000 men and women so far, and we owe as much to them today as we did in wars past.
Memorial Day was not designed as a commemoration for the beginning of summer parties and barbeques. It was designed to become a tradition to allow for the memories of heroic men and women to not be forgotten.
Not only do we owe this to our war dead, we owe this to our children and grandchildren. It is up to us to continue to pass on the legacy of patriotism in our young people.