An Outreach Program of MarineParents.com
Like many of us, when Memorial Day comes around I start thinking about all of the losses this country has absorbed at the expense of acquiring and maintaining freedom and democracy for it’s citizens. It never fails to bring an ache to my heart that so many thousands of men and women sacrificed their physical and/or mental health, their peace of mind, their mobility of movement, their own freedoms, or their lives for all of us. I remember, as a child, visiting the cemeteries on Decoration Day (what Memorial Day used to be), laying flowers on the eternal resting place of lost loved ones, and specifically seeing the small flags placed on the graves of veterans, my natural Father included. They were small gifts of tribute and reverence by those who remembered and continued to care, and the practice, thankfully, lives on.
When my sons were small, I would take them to visit their Grandfather on Memorial Day as well. They did not understand why we did this for a person they had never met, but as the years passed they learned not only to understand, but to appreciate the value of remembering the past, and honoring the memory of those who served. I see so many people now that only connect Memorial Day to picnics, camping trips, and parties. I’m not intimating that those things should not be enjoyed, but aren’t we losing focus here? Aren’t we forgetting the real reason for the 3-day weekend that allows many of us to enjoy the outside activities? Are we so bombarded with advertising for “Memorial Day Madness” sales that we are forgetting the very souls this holiday is supposed to be a tribute for? I, for one, have not.
When I visit the cemetery as in years passed, there will be a slight breeze blowing, there will be flags for all veterans which magically appear every year through the love and dedication of local VFW Posts, there will be family members placing their wreaths and bouquets. They will be speaking in hushed tones, not willing to disturb the lonely, yet peaceful resting place of those who served this country, and us. Those men and women who must never be forgotten, whose memories and accomplishments must be handed down to each generation, perhaps to protect us from ourselves, and whose sacrifices were a tribute to our present and our future.