“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
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