Monday, May 30, 2005
I have been thinking about what to write for my Memorial Day post for most of the weekend. As I was sitting in church Sunday morning, I read an insert in the church bulletin, and it became clear that the words written there were timely. They are reproduced below.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
Over the years the meaning of Memorial Day has faded too much from the public consciousness. From a solemn day of mourning, remembrance, and honor to our departed loved ones, it has degenerated into a weekend of BBQs, shopping bargains and beaches where only token nods toward our honored dead are given, if at all. Too many don't know what the day stands for.
Memorial Day used to be a sacred day that was reserved for the remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes often times ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were then given. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those that fell in service to their country.
Wonderful people in other nations sometimes show more of the true spirit and mission of the U.S. Memorial Day than we do here. For example, a 2001 U.S. Memorial Day Guest Book entry from a citizen of the Netherlands states:
"In 1999, I laid flowers at the grace of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools 'adopting' graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition. Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools?"
It is human nature to avoid the unpleasant. But we need to remember the cost of war, we need to remember the price paid for our freedom, and we need to not let those who died having died forgotten and in vain.
When Congress made Memorial Day into a three day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90-363), it made it all the easier for us to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day.
We need to teach our children the day's meaning. Show others by our actions that we will not forget. You don't have to believe in war to honor our family, friends, and neighbors who died in service to their country.
Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day. Please remember that many have given the ultimate sacrifice so that it could be such.