Memorial Day – what it means to me

May 25, 2020

So, as I venture into this thing called blogging I’m discovering that I can write about whatever suits my fancy.  That’s kind of cool…but it is also daunting, because I want to make sure that whatever I ramble about has some value and meaning to folks that might peruse the thoughts that I write down.

Having said that, it seems like the subject matter is picked for me.  I mean, today is Memorial Day, to not write about it would seem to ignore the day and all that it means.

It seems that some confusion exists in our current culture surrounding the holidays that honor the men and women that wear, or wore, or died in the uniforms of our armed services.  So, perhaps this will serve as a reminder of who (or is it whom) we honor on each holiday and specifically what this day means.

I do not mean for this to be a political post, so I’m not trying to defend past or present wars and conflicts; nor am I trying to justify the existence of professional soldiers.  Whether or not I think the battle was right, or fair, or just isn’t the point.  The men and women that stood in to protect the American way of life deserve our honor and our gratitude.  I think that we can and should give honor to these men and women even if (and maybe especially when) we disagree with them.

Veteran’s Day falls on November 11th (and used to be known as Armistice Day).  It is a day set aside to honor veterans of our armed services.  It takes place on November 11th, the day in 1918 that the allies sign the armistice with Germany ending World War I.  On this day, we recognize and thank all of the men and women that once wore the uniform.

Armed Services Day falls on the third Saturday in May and began in 1949.  The Army, Navy, and Air Force used to have single days to recognize those currently serving.  Efforts were made to consolidate the celebration and in 1961, President Kennedy declared Armed Services Day a national holiday.

Memorial Day is the most somber of the celebrations that are so closely tied to our armed services, because this is the day that we take time to remember those that gave their lives while they were wearing one of the uniforms of our armed services.

Often we see this weekend as the kickoff to summer.  We take an opportunity to sneak out of town for some camping, hiking, or fishing.  We dust off the grills and smokers and gather with friends and family to celebrate a long weekend, but too often we fail to remember that we get to enjoy the lazy days of summer precisely because men and women have been willing to put themselves in harms way when it was necessary.

Yes, there is a lot more that we could say about each of these holidays.  But today, I encourage you to take just a few minutes and consider where we would be if not for the men and women that took a stand against tyranny and paved the way for us to declare our independence from Great Britain and give birth to this great experiment that became the United States of America.

Where would we be today if not for the men and women that stood in the face of evil during the first World War?

Where would we be without the men and women that rose to face our enemies during the second World War?  Those that earned the nickname, “the greatest generation.”

Take a moment today and teach your children or grandchildren about the meaning of this weekend.  It would appear that our schools no longer feel the need to teach civics or history in a way that allows for much pride or patriotism, so it is up to us to make sure that those who went before us – and especially those that paid the price for us – are never forgotten or dishonored.

This tribute, originally posted in 2016, is one of my favorites. Thank you, Hillsdale College, for putting this together. If you have about 4 minutes, maybe this will be as meaningful for you as it is for me.

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