“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.
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.
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.
It 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 Pixabay.com License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ and free for use.)