Why do you celebrate Memorial Day? by Sharla Lee Shults


Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude; America will never forget their sacrifices.”
– President Harry S. Truman (Remarks after D-Day, June 6, 1944)

Airplanes, trains, buses, cars, motorcycles, yachts, RVs will be revin’ their engines, reelin’, rockin’, rollin’ toward sunny beaches, campgrounds, as well as other retreats or escape destinations, this coming weekend. But, WHY? The fact is the very mention of Memorial Day brings to mind Memorial Day weekend: Three days filled with planned getaways—picnics, beach blasts, barbeque cookouts – hot dogs, hamburgers & apple pie, parades – marching or watching—marking school is OUT officially kicking off summer! For many, it is a long weekend with an extra day off from daily work routines. It is anything, everything red, white and blue.

Far too many Americans will focus attention on Sale! Sale! Sale! as shoppers scan newspaper/TV ads for the best bargains of the weekend. Time will be spent bartering, even bantering, over items not necessarily needed but wanted, not because they are ‘for sale’ but simply because they are ‘on sale’. Entertainment groups will gather in parks, some in arenas, around the nation. Barbeque with camping of sorts will be attractions of the day accompanied by cases upon cases of sodas, wine, mostly beer.

Whoa! STOP! What is wrong with this picture? Hello! This is MEMORIAL Day weekend!

That’s right…MEMORIAL! That means this weekend, especially Monday, is a celebration of remembrance: commemorating the men and women who have died in wars or in the service of their country. These are not our veterans, living/disabled or deceased, who served in the military coming home at some point during their service to reunite with family, friends, loved ones. These are the persons who pledged allegiance, gave their all, succumbing to their final sleep to ensure America’s freedoms remain intact.

Let’s back up a moment. Mentioning our veterans brings up a very important comparison since they, too, are honored with a special day of celebration.

Memorial Day vs. Veterans’ Day

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who DIED in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty. A complete history of Veterans Day, and why it is observed on November 11, can be found on the Veterans Day History Web page (http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp).
Source: The U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs (http://chosenfast.com/2006/11/11/veterans-day-vs-memorial-day/)


As you prepare in celebration for a fun weekend with family, also friends, don’t forget to include a special time for reverence in honor of, along with respect for, the men and women who gave their all, their lives, for America. We would not be where we are today enjoying the freedoms America has to offer, were it not for those who sacrificed to make/keep this country free. After all, they are the epitome of the human spirit called freedom!

It isn’t a bad thing to take advantage of the sales, especially taking into consideration our nation’s economy. However, should you take that advantage at any time during this weekend or on Monday be sure to notice whether an American flag is flying or if a sign is displayed in the window in honor, in respect of our fallen soldiers. If one is not visible, I challenge you to ask “Why not?


Bottom line—While this may be a time for the beach blasts, barbeque cookouts – hot dogs with all the trimmings, hamburgers with fries, then topped off with scrumptious apple pie, it is more importantly a time of remembering. . .

Cost of Freedom
a time for reflection, a time of remembering


Like the bald eagle

Forever watchful were we
Guiding, protecting
The land of the free

‘Twas our place
To be brave, stay strong
Ready, yes willing
All the day long

Our eyes were keen
Often focused on pain
Fields were bloody
Amid storms, heavy rain

Bodies of comrades
Strewn here, there, about
Never for a moment
Left room for any doubt

On home or foreign shores
Know ardently that we
Who gave up our lives
‘Twas for country and thee

Times of reflection
Assure tributes remain
Lest eroding sands of time
Leave nothing the same

Throughout each day, all year
Never forget the cost
Freedom sacrificially gained
Can easily be lost

©Sharla Lee Shults

In honor and recognition of their service to our country, pay tribute to all of the dedicated members of the American military who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. They paid the highest price for America’s freedom, not with currency but with blood. Say a silent prayer. Take 5 minutes to think about those sacrifices, how loss of life impacted the establishment of the America we know today. Be grateful.

Memorial Day: A day for reflection, a day of remembrance

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7 thoughts on “Why do you celebrate Memorial Day? by Sharla Lee Shults

  1. Linda Hales

    Such a beautiful tribute Sharla. Canadian’s celebrated Victoria Day last weekend (equiv. to Memorial Day) and I agree, it is all too easy to get caught up in the commercial aspects of it, rather than to say thanks to those who gave their lives to give us this freedom.

    I always look forward to your posts Sharla. You are not only a true patriot but you go that extra mile to remind us of the sacrifices that have and no doubt will continue to be made on our behalf.2

  2. Micki Peluso

    Sharla, as usual, you’ve written a beautiful, pertinent piece on a holiday, like the 4th of July, that so many seem to forget the reasons behind the honor placed upon this day.. One reminder is when loved ones join the Armed Forces forces and one lives in fear for their safety. So often we forget what our quality of life would be had it not been for those who bravely gave their lives to keep this country free. There is no praise high enough when men and woman give their lives that we might live ours. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  3. James L. Secor

    I wonder, though, why it is we honor the military and have days to remember violence and destruction rather than those who fight against these “realities”? Associated with this holiday, I read an article about the Vietnam military heroes fighting for freedom and the American way and whatnot but nary a word about those who fought at home suffering oppression and death at the hands of their own government and brought the end of the ill-got war to an end earlier than would have otherwise been the case, who lessened the deaths that could have occurred. But do not forget, the gov’t does little to honor its own military in that it does not take care of the returning wounded. Instead it has PR days like Memorial Day when most people go off for a much needed holiday, thinking only of themselves and the TV stations go overboard pushing some kind of agenda. It all saddens me.

  4. Sharla

    Thank you to each of you who took the time to not only read my article relating to Memorial Day but most importantly for leaving comments. ‘Happy’ routinely appears preceding the words Memorial Day. There is absolutely no way around it. We are happy to live in America. We happily enjoy all the freedoms America has to offer. Joyous are we getting prepared for time with family and friends: walking the beach, swimming, picnicking, bar-be-queuing—food, fun, fellowship! Such happiness has come at an immense sacrifice. We must all remember for so many their association with Memorial Day is anything by happy.

    1. John B. Rosenman

      A wonderful, timely post, Sharla. As you point out, we are blessed here in America to enjoy our freedoms because of patriotic men and women who pay the ultimate price for us to enjoy them. And all too often we think of Memorial Day in commercial terms, as hot button Sales, Barbeques, and three-day weekends away from work. We should REMEMBER what it is all about and spare at least five minutes to reflect and meditate on what it means and on the vast fields of graves which mark its history. Though as you stress, there is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I still see an overlap, especially when some veterans may have died due to incompetent or nonexistent health care when they returned home, expecting their Government would keep its part of the agreement with them.


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