Today, May 27, 2013, we celebrate Memorial Day. I am moved to ponder who really celebrates, and what are we celebrating. Are we celebrating a day off our workweek? Are we heading to the beach or mountains or lakes to enjoy time with our families? Are we firing up the grills for hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, roasted corn on the cob, or other concoctions we’ve come up with through the years? Is this a day, or a few hours, to spend with our loved ones? If so, perhaps we should all take a moment to remember why we can do these things. As has been stated before by men and women much smarter than me, there is a cost to the freedoms we enjoy. Sure it cost money to maintain a strong military, but few of us remember monetary amounts. The most memorable cost is the lives of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day is a federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May.Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
We as a nation celebrate Memorial Day. But do we as individuals remember the men and women who gave their lives? Do we know anything about them?
The next time you’re out shopping at a grocery store or department store, take a moment to look at the elderly men and women who are slumped over their carts, pushing them slowly through aisles. Ask yourself, “I wonder if they were in a war? I wonder how many friends or relatives they lost? I wonder if they remember them on this day?
We can celebrate the dead, and we should. However, we cannot say “Thank You” to the dead, except as we speak to them in our thoughts. And perhaps that is the essence of the purpose of Memorial Day. We can display the flags and put flowers on graves, and we should.
But today is also a day of remembrance of the sacrifices made so we can have our cookouts and visits to beaches and family gatherings.
Take a moment to remember those who gave their all, for they deserve our thanks.
Also take a moment to hug those who are still with us, and tell them thanks for their service. And if you have it in you, ask those who are still living to share stories of those they knew who aren’t with us any more. Listen, ask questions, and learn. You might be surprised at what you hear, and someday you can pass those stories on to your sons and daughters.
As you see the flags waving or wade into lapping waves or enjoy the hot dog or hamburger, take a moment to remember. And somewhere in your thoughts and words, say “Thank You.”
Until next time, Ready or Not.