I hope you don’t mind, but we decided to reprint a story from a few years ago given this is Memorial Day Weekend. I think it’s still relevant. I hope you feel the same….
This is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States. Like many of you, our dance card is pretty full this weekend with family activities and events. And, like too many other holidays, I think we tend to forget just what Memorial Day is really all about because of the many activities that keep us so engaged over these three days.
Originally Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was a day to solemnly remember those who had died in service to our nation in the Civil War. Since that time we have unofficially, then officially as of 1868, had a day to honor those who fought and died protecting our way of life. By the end of the first world war Memorial Day was established as a nationwide day of remembrance for ALL who served and died, not just those from the Civil War. In 1971 Congress declared that the last Monday in May would always be the official Memorial Day thereby allowing all of us a 3 day weekend around the end of May.
I like 3 day weekends, but I can’t help but think that the generation of my children and grandchildren may see Memorial Day more as a holiday and time off rather than a time to offer humble thanks for all of those who have defended our freedom since this nation was founded. Maybe that’s OK since it’s really one Memorial Day and two weekend days. But we should all take some time this weekend to say “thanks” to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. They did so we can all enjoy not only this 3 day weekend, but the other 362 days of freedom and liberties we cherish, and perhaps occasionally take for granted.
Now when I think about sacrifices, especially in these current times, I include all of those who protect us. Our soldiers and sailors to those who stand vigilant on our borders, in our airports, our cities, at our lakes and forests, and others who have chosen to dedicate themselves to protecting and defending our well being. Policemen, firemen, border guards, conservation officers, TSA, and many others spend their work lives protecting us. Some of them will be called upon to give their lives in doing so.
I’m from a generation whose parents lived through the first world war, the depression, and later the second world war and Korean conflict. We saw a cold war, a nuclear arms race, Vietnam, and continuing regional conflicts throughout the world. We have seen many give their lives in these conflicts, sometimes for what later would prove to be questionable gain. But those who sacrificed never wavered, never questioned the cause.
I don’t like war. I wish conflicts could be settled by peaceful negotiation, tolerance, and common sense. But I don’t think that our race has progressed to that point as yet. We’re making progress, but it is painfully slow and oftentimes two steps forward and one step back. It shouldn’t be this way. Perhaps our grandchildren will eventually live in a world where sacrifices that Memorial Day recognizes are no longer necessary. Imagine that.
Like all of you I love this country and the freedoms we enjoy and occasionally take for granted. But perhaps this coming Monday, this Memorial Day, we can all take a few minutes to give thanks for what we have and for those who have given so much so this great country remains the land of the free and the home of the brave. And if you can, thank a vet for his or her service to this country. It will make Monday special for both of you.
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