Memorial Day Significance Has Been Forgotten

The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA
The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA

“Happy Memorial Day!”  

I cringe when I hear people gleefully share these three words as they wave their goodbyes and begin their long weekend.

To tell the truth, I find it offensive. It annoys me that that the American people have little clue what Memorial Day commemorates.

We have developed an overindulgent need in our society to display niceties. Then, there are many who are simply, by nature, complaisant.

There also seems to be an ever-increasing trend toward shaming or “guilting” others into bending-over-backward to ensure political correctness toward those who have served in the military. Perhaps, this is the reason most have confused Memorial Day with Veterans’ Day of November 11th.

Arlington National Cemetery Gravestones
Arlington National Cemetery Gravestones

The importance and significance of Memorial Day is to remember the men and women who died while serving–killed in war. Veterans’ Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

I did not serve in a war. Yet, this much I do know…

Memorial Day is a sacred day

Anyone who has served in a war zone 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.  It has been 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, this nation (and its people) have forgotten what patriotism truly means. We now take the freedoms we all enjoy and have forgotten that there were others who agreed to walk through death’s door to pay for that freedom.

Widow at the grave of her hero.
Widow at the grave of her hero.

Yet, when we honor our war dead, it is a way to preserve their service, sacrifice and memory. We have a moral 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.

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. 

Please teach others the importance of remembering these fallen 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.

flowers-14207_640It may be as simple as taking that minute of silence at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, 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.

It is not an old-fashioned tradition that we can forget.

This is as pertinent today as ever, because we have Americans who have served in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have lost more than 5300 men and women in combat alone since 2001, and we owe as much to them today as we did in wars past.

Memorial Day was not designed as a commemoration to mark the beginning of summer and our parties and barbecues.  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.


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More from Coral:  Memorial Day and Why I am Annoyed

(Author’s note:  Originally written and submitted on 5/31/2010 at Associated Content/Yahoo Contributors Network. All rights retained by author when site closed. Revised for today’s submission.  All photos courtesy of License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ and free for use.)


12 thoughts on “Memorial Day Significance Has Been Forgotten

  1. Peter

    Coral, Yes!!!! I am in total agreement …in all aspects of this installment of your writing. It’s spot on! Thank you for all your posts..they are an inspiration.. also, please accept my sympathy for the loss of your dad. I know you were not overly close. But I’m sure you are proud of his excellence in his professional life..seems like that creative tendency has carried to you as well. Thank you again for speaking on behalf of all vets and for America in general. Best, Peter

    Sent from my LG Smartphone on Sprint

    1. Peter, thank you for stopping in to read and comment on this post. I appreciate your taking the time to do so and for your kind words.
      I am not sure how it is that you came by to read, or if we might know one another. But, again, thank you nonetheless.

  2. Trenna Sue

    One of the things I love about Memorial Day is the tradition of flying the flag half staff in the morning of those soldiers who have died and full staff afternoon for those who have served and are serving and not passed away. I think it is an important tradition. It means a lot to me.

  3. Coral, I will not be partying tomorrow. I will, unfortunately, have to work on my web site, but I will be pausing often to remember those who sacrificed their lives, including those that were my friends. I am going to link to this article on my own blog post for tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Barbara, for your kind words and for sharing. I have a bbq to attend today, and tomorrow will be at the cemetery for a service to honor our war dead.

    1. Thank you so much, Theresa. I am considering getting back on FB, but doing so very privately, and then having my own writing page to promote a couple of blogs I am considering. I probably need to have a conversation with you (and buy your book!) before I do that! Hugs and much love to you, and thank you for your continued support. xo

  4. Reblogged this on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE and commented:

    Written last year, there is nothing I can say that is different than what I shared in the following post.

    Please remember that Memorial Day is not Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day. Nor is it a day whose message should be pushed away into silence, only to be drowned out by whatever else it has come to mean for those who think it is a celebration of anything other than the memories of those men and woman who have given their lives to preserve the freedom and lives of others.

    I invite you to revisit last year’s piece and pass it along to remind others why we truly do have this day.

  5. fardreamer

    I’m always amazed at our nation’s unerring ability to take any observance (Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, etc.) and turn it into a festive occasion. I have no problem celebrating Independence Day, but to call Memorial Day the start of summer and make it a “party hardy” weekend is an insult to those brave men and women who gave their lives in the service of their nation. It’s so sad and disappointing,

    1. Alex…I agree. I am all for people getting together and enjoying the company of others, and even using this weekend to start their summer, but not at the expense of disregard to our service members and other first-responders (police, firefighters, EMT, etc.) who have lost their lives in the line of doing their jobs to protect others and their freedoms.

      1. fardreamer

        I think that the people who came up with the concept of “Decoration Day” to honor the nation’s Civil War dead would be unhappy to see what our consumer-oriented culture has done to Memorial Day.

        It’s worth pointing out that the 20th Century version of Thanksgiving was conceived by the retail industry to boost pre-Christmas sales during World War II. I think President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the decree that created the present national holiday either in 1941 or ’42. Not that it was a bad thing to do, really, but it originated from – again – commercial interests that were interested in profit and not creating a family-centered federal holiday.

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