Each year at the end of May we honor Memorial Day. Kids get a day off of school, many adults get the day off work, and everyone is happy to have the free day. We gather together, light the barbecues, and crack open a cold beer. It’s been this way for as long as most of us can remember.
Memorial Day is the day that kicks off the summer season. It marks the ending of the school year, the beginning of warmer days, longer nights, and many more barbecues with friends. It’s one more reason for businesses to drum up sales. There is really nothing wrong with these traditions that mark Memorial Day. The problem comes when all these things over shadow why we as a country have this red letter holiday. The fun and sales should never take away from the true meaning of the day.
The tradition of Memorial Day actually began shortly after the Civil War, but back then it was called Decoration Day. It was originally set for the last day in May, chosen at the time because it was a day that did not mark the anniversary for any particular battle. General John A. Logan declared it a day of nationwide remembrance. It was to be a day to decorate the graves of those fellow countrymen who had fallen during the war. In 1971, the day that became known as Memorial Day, became an official federal holiday.
Many Americans still observe the day by visiting grave sites and placing flags on the graves of fallen heroes. All across America, towns have parades and gatherings to observe the holiday. Everyone has their own ways of observing Memorial Day. But the important thing is to remember why it is a holiday. It is a day set aside each year, not to mark the beginning of summer, but to remember each and every person who has fallen in battle to protect our freedoms. It is a day set aside to memorialize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this amazing country.
From the wars that were fought in order to build a new nation to the ones being fought on foreign soil today, men and women have given their lives. As military families we live with that reality every day. We know deep down that our spouse, father, brother, wife, mother, sister could be the next name on that long and distinguished list of those willing to give everything for their country. This day, this one day, is set aside to ask people to remember why our country is so great and why we have the freedoms we take for granted.
Remembering Memorial Day…
Observe the day in your own way. Take advantage of that big sale, have a barbecue with friends and families, or go to a local parade. However you choose to observe the day, just make sure you take the time to reflect on the meaning behind it. Take the time to truly be grateful for those who gave their lives for your freedom, and say a prayer for those who are fighting right now to maintain everything you hold dear. ‘Celebrate’ the holiday, but make sure to give a toast to those who have come before and given that ultimate sacrifice.