Memorial Day—The first day of summer, a day to play with our families, a day to hike in the mountains or a National Park, a day for our first barbeque of the year. All fun activities, great ways to spend with our families.
But do you remember why we celebrate Memorial Day?
No, it is not a day to remember our Veterans, not a day to honor their service.
Memorial IS a day to remember those who gave their lives for our country, from the days of the American Revolution. These men and women cared enough for our country that they were willing to step forward and serve us, placing their lives in danger.
I have family who fought in many of the wars our country participated in. Some lost their lives during the battles, some died because of their wounds, and others came home and lived out their lives, often suffering from the effects of battle. We had to be careful when we woke up my father-in-law, for his PTSD would make itself known. He, along with many others who came home, have now passed on.
I honor those men and women who lost their lives, whether in the battle, as a result of injuries, or those who returned home and struggled to live a normal life as they remembered the horrors of war.
Do you plan to barbecue this weekend? Picnic? Go shopping? (Stores hope you do.) Swim? It’s a holiday weekend, isn’t it? Why do we really participate in this holiday?
Wikipedia states that Memorial Day is a day to remember the people who died in service to our country as members of the Armed Forces. It originated as Decoration Day in 1868, after the Civil War. In the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate traditions were combined, creating our current day Memorial Day.
In the Memorial Days of my youth. School ended the Friday before. We remembered family members who passed on, decorating their graves with flowers. Even then, the point was not to remember those members of the military who gave their lives for us, though many of the graves we decorated were of service members. It was a day to remember our loved ones—and then go on a picnic and celebrate summer. But, I live in the west.
As the wife of a retired sailor, I think of it differently, now. I try to consider those in my family’s past who gave their lives for our country. This goes back to the beginning of our country. There were family members in every conflict the United States participated in. No, not all died in the wars. But each gave a portion of their life to the battlefields. I honor them.
I challenge you to look to your personal family history. Find one, or more, who fought to maintain freedom. Next Monday, among all the other long weekend activities, spend a moment to remember that family member. Offer them a word of thanks.