Memorial Day Is A Day To Remember and Honor Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice For Our Nation
There is something that truly bothers me about Memorial Day.
The cookouts, the parades, and people wishing everyone “Happy Memorial Day!” for starters.
People have truly lost sight of what this day was established to do. It was originated as a day to remember the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. It was established to honor those that died in the line of duty. Over the years, Memorial Day was expanded to honor all of the fallen members of our military who died while defending our flag and protecting our freedoms.
Today, cities and towns across America are decorated in red, white, and blue flags, and banners. Sparkly streamers adorn doorways to businesses inviting people to come inside for an amazing Memorial Day sale with prices that cannot be beat. Barbecue grills are heated up in almost every back yard while beers are cracked and outdoor stereos are cranked up to everyone’s favorite beginning of summer tunes.
Most people, through no fault of their own, do not give a passing thought to the true meaning behind Memorial Day, because only about one percent of Americans even know someone who is in the military. Even though we have been at war for almost fifteen years now, most people do not know someone who is in any branch of the armed services.
However, at the same time, across the country, veterans and families of the fallen will gather at cemeteries and memorial ceremonies while they watch the American flag be raised, listen to the haunting echo of the playing of “Taps,” and remember and mourn. If enough time has passed, they may remember and celebrate, the passing of their service member, who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving under the colors of Old Glory to protect our freedoms, to defend our country, and to carry out the oath which he or she swore to uphold when they became a member of the United States military.
On this day, we do not remember wars. We do not glorify battles. We do not praise living veterans who are still with us, nor do we honor the service men and women who are currently serving. We have Armed Forces Day to honor those actively serving and we have Veterans Day to honor those who fought in any war or conflict and whom we are blessed to still have with us or who made it out alive and who died of natural causes.
Today, we remember the men and woman who paid the ultimate price with their service. We remember them because they make us remember something about human dignity and true selflessness. We remember them because they should remind us of the true character of our country. At times, that character is lost in politics and rhetoric; but today, we remember those who gave all so that future generations could have an opportunity to have the same. We remember them and their valor, their bravery, their dedication to freedom, their love of country and of people in that country that they never knew and never would, because they loved this country in a way that 99.9% of us will never understand.
To those who gave all so that we and future generations might know a better peace, thank you. To the families and the friends of those who are no longer with us because your service member selflessly sacrificed their life so that we could continue to live freely, thank you and know that your family member’s sacrifice was not in vain.
We must remember that Memorial Day is so much more than just a day to get together and enjoy each other’s company.
It is a day to remember the fallen heroes of our nation that make today possible for all of us safely at home.
For to forget the sacrifices of those who have fallen and to forget our past, diminishes the sacrifices of those brave men and women and belittles the greatest prices that a person could pay for loving and protecting their country. Moreover, to forget the past means that we are doomed to repeat it in the future.
Each member of the armed services takes an oath similar to this one when joining the service:
I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Thank you to the men and women who died upholding this oath. Today, we remember you.
*Originally published on May 25, 2015
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