As we approach Memorial Day, I am once again compelled to remind myself (and others) of the purpose and meaning of this sacred holiday.
After the Civil War ended, friends and family would visit the graves of those killed in the war and would decorate them, as a means of remembering and honoring their sacrifice. Originally called “Decoration Day”, it was later renamed to “Memorial Day” and repurposed to remember ALL members of our military who sacrificed their lives, so that they, and their stories, would not be lost or forgotten.
Since then, as our country has become more focused on material luxury and convenience, we have drifted away from the original intent (as we have with our founding Constitution), marking Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer, full of BBQ, beach, sun and fun.
Don’t get me wrong – if I had given my life in service to my country, I would WANT people to enjoy the fruits of my sacrifice – freedom, enjoyment and comfort. However, I would also hope that they would also take a few minutes to honor me and the others who put their lives on the line – and then gave them up.
Ways to do this include visiting a war veteran’s grave, attending a local remembrance ceremony (usually conducted by local VFW or American Legion units) or attending some other type of formal ceremony.
But as we find ourselves in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, where our NH beaches are closed, restaurants are limited and gatherings of 10 or more are discouraged, you may find that these events are cancelled and you have some free time on your hands. In lieu of these traditional ways to remember, perhaps you could read a story about an American killed in action (1) (2) (3) (4) (5), or even just watch a documentary or movie (1) (2) (3) (4) that accurately portrays Americans in battle.
And if you have children, talk to them about the importance this holiday, instilling a sense of reverence for those who sacrificed themselves, passing along the spirit of the day to the next generation.