May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

The following piece is a guest post by my dear friend, Calah D.  Memorial Day falls on the third Monday of May here in the United States and is set aside to honor our war dead.  Governments, schools, and most businesses are closed so that people can spend the day with their loved ones as they ponder the significance of our servicemen and women's sacrifice.  However, in recent years many Americans have begun to view the day more as a barbequing holiday than as a commemoration of those who paid the ultimate price for their country.  This post serves as a reminder of what this day truly stands for and how we should observe it.


Timothy G. Robinson
April 14, 1968-  "Remember when we were kids on Easter the girls would be all dressed up in new hats, pretty dresses... and us boys with new shoes and shirts and off to church we would go and after come home to look for our Easter baskets. What good times. I hope God will bring me back home so that I may marry the girl I love, which will be in March if things go OK. Then I can watch my kids get all dressed up and head for church and live that day over again. Holidays are no different than any other day. Every day is Monday in Vietnam."
Five days after writing this letter, Robinson caught his foot on a trip wire, setting off a mine that killed him instantly.

Today we observe Memorial Day, established in 1858 as Decoration Day. This day was set aside to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  In 1971, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday to honor all Americans who have died in our wars.

Many Americans, including myself, enjoy a day off work—the opportunity to spend some leisure time with family and friends, to (hopefully) enjoy spring weather, to BBQ, perhaps enjoy the beach or lake if we’re lucky enough to be near one, generally relax with a three day weekend. And there is absolutely nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  No one should feel guilty for enjoying a day to relax and eat and have fun with those they love. It’s a free country!

Fort Logan Nat'l Cemetery
(c) Calah D.
This is a free country because of those such as Timothy Robinson. He never came home to marry the girl he loved, to watch his kids get all dressed up and look for Easter baskets after church, to enjoy a holiday, to live a life where every day was not a Monday.  There were no more BBQs and swims in the lake or Memorial Day gatherings with family and friends for him.

Isn’t the least we can do to remember him…. and the thousands of others who have given everything for our country…. for us?

I realize that not everyone can easily attend a Memorial Day ceremony. Perhaps there isn’t one nearby; maybe the kids are a little too young to be patient throughout a long service....absolutely understandable. But I do think that the majority of Americans, including me, should make an effort to walk through a national cemetery (if there is one nearby) or attend a ceremony at the local VFW post. Taking one hour out of our day isn’t a significant sacrifice and it definitely is not a waste of time.

In the past, Decoration Day was an opportunity to lay flowers on the graves of our war dead….to show honor, respect, remembrance….it was not an obligation, it was a labor of love. It was not a unique or special or “pat on the back” type of service….it was something the community did together.  I think we are equal to that in 2014. I think it is our duty, as citizens, to be faithful to the dedication our ancestors had in honoring those who have died in our wars.

(c) Calah D.
Being an American citizen is a birthright to some, naturalization for others.  It is a gift to all and not something to consider lightly. Our responsibility as citizens is to honor and remember those who have died for our country, regardless of what our personal political opinions might be.  Memorial Day gives us this opportunity.

In 1884, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr, gave a speech replying to the question “Why do people still keep up Memorial Day.” This is what he said….
But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. For one hour, twice a year at least--at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves--the dead come back and live with us. 

Regardless of what you do on Monday....boat or swim or BBQ or work or hike…remember this.

Remember them.
(c) Calah D.
This is dedicated to my Mother, who faithfully took us
to Memorial and Veterans Day services every year.
She taught me the importance of honor, respect, and patriotism.
She and my Father have given me many gifts, including the opportunity to
be an American citizen.
I am proud of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your comments, feedback, and suggestions.