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When we think about Memorial Day, most of us think about BBQs, getting together with friends and family, sales for things like cars and furniture and it being the unofficial kick off to summer. In all of its fun, the meaning of this three day weekend is often forgotten amid the parties and celebrations.
Forgotten are the Wars fought. Forgotten are the ones that came home broken. Forgotten are the ones who valiantly gave their lives to protect this Country’s interests. Forgotten are the reasons why this nation should remember its War Dead.
Few will take the time to find out why Memorial Day was proclaimed. Most people will not know it started back on the 5th of May, 1868 by General John Logan, to remember the war dead from the Civil War. Most people will not know that it was the South that mourned on a different day up until the First World War, when it was changed to remember ALL Americans that died in combat. Most people will not know that in December 2000, US Congress signed a bill into law, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act”. This act encourages Americans to take a moment of silence at 3pm on Memorial Day, to reflect, to remember all those who bravely lost their lives in past and present wars. It makes me wonder just how many American take pause to honor those who have fallen?
Our Veterans in this country will tell you that they just did what they did because they were following orders and that they are proud of their service to their country. Most of them will gladly share with you stories of their time spent overseas in faraway lands. Most of them would be so touched for the general public to remember the sacrifices their lost shipmates, comrades and friends. Most Veterans in this country would love just to hear a simple thank you. To them, they were just doing a job, a job that they volunteered to do when no one else would. Veterans in this country just want respect.
So amid your BBQs, celebrations, and summer kick offs, think past the idea Memorial Day Weekend is time for you to relax. Rather, it is a time for reflection. It is time for you to honor the sacrifices others have made in order for you to live your life free. Take time to remember those who didn’t come home or those who did come home less of themselves.
If you want to honor those, visit your local Cenotaph. If you are near a cementry that has War Dead buried, go decorate their graves. A little American flag at a grave site of one of the fallen, shows how much you care. Stop at your local Legion and sit with some Veterans. Listen to their stories. Let them know that you appreciate their service. If you know someone who has served, maybe invite them to your BBQ. Let our Veterans know that you think about them. As many of our Veterans are slowing dying, and with them their stories and memories. They are part of this country’s history. They are ones that help shape this country. Let’s not let them think that they are worth less than a Memorial Day Sale or your right to party because it’s a three-day weekend. You have that three-day weekend because of them.
“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
General John A Logan, 1868
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