For all of my American friends, Happy Memorial Day! Many businesses are closed today giving their employees the day off of work to celebrate this day that marks the beginning of summer for most of us. It’s a day to enjoy a cookout with friends and family, go to a parade, put your boat on the lake, go camping with the family, or enjoy any other variety of activities. Certainly, it’s a day of fun.
But while we’re all out eating, laughing and having a great time, let’s take a few minutes to remember why we celebrate this day. It’s unfortunate that for too many Americans the real meaning of Memorial Day has gotten lost in the party and celebration.
Although Memorial Day has been widely celebrated since the 1800's, it was not until 1971 that it was declared a national holiday. Today we remember and honor our fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price to defend our great nation and our freedom, and we thank those who are continuing to protect us and our nation.
I remember when I was young we would go to the cemetery to place flowers on the graves of loved ones. Back then they called it “Decoration Day” and the cemetery came to life with all the brightly colored flowers on a sunny day. My father was in the Army and so we learned at a young age what the real celebration was all about.
I remember my wonderful Dad and the many stories he used to tell. He ran off and joined the Army when he was only a child at 17 and served for 25 years. Dad served in Germany at the end of World War II and also did two tours of duty in the Korean War. But I remember him telling me that serving in war was much easier than what he had to do during the Vietnam War. Far too many times, he had to put on his dress blues and drive to the home of a soldier’s family and give them the devastating news that their loved one had lost their life. The weight of this task was almost too much for my Dad’s strong shoulders and on these occasions you could see the crack in his armor, the sadness in his eyes and the dread of having to face another family. My mother, knowing my Dad better than anyone, would ride along with him, waiting quietly in the car while he delivered the heartbreaking news, so that she could be there to support him afterwards. She knew how much he loved the Army, but she also knew how much this hurt him to the very depth of his soul. It was a job that nobody envied.
So go out today and celebrate this Memorial Day. It’s absolutely what we should do. Just remember that we are celebrating and honoring the lives of all of our veterans who have served our country to keep us safe and free. And please, while you’re throwing those burgers and hot dogs on the grill, take a moment to say an extra prayer for the family who has an empty chair at their table.
Thank you so much to all who have paid the ultimate price, to all who have served and continue to serve our great nation, and to all of their families.
God Bless You All!
My Dad who passed away in 2006.