‘The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” Calvin Coolidge
What do you think about as Memorial Day approaches? If you were being honest, you might say you were dreaming of joyful 3 day weekend to kickoff the start of summer. In all reality, the true meaning of Memorial Day has become an afterthought to BBQs, a day off work, or the big sale going on at Macy’s. At best, Memorial Day is thought of as one of those ‘veterans holidays.’ But it’s more than that.
Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971 through an act of Congress. It is a day meant to honor and respect those brave men and women of our armed forces who died serving our country. Furthermore, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act into law in 2000. The Act was created to unite the nation each Memorial Day and hold a moment of silence at 3pm to remember our nation’s fallen warriors. It is not to be confused with Veterans Day, a national holiday in November that recognizes all who have served in our military, both living and deceased. Memorial Day is most often recognized through ceremonies at veteran’s cemeteries, community parades, and other patriotic events. Memorial Day is a day to put partisan beliefs aside and remember that you are an American first while honoring those who laid down their lives in service to our nation.
With every passing year, the understanding and appreciation of Memorial Day is diminished by the undeniably growing military-civilian divide. With our men and women in uniform representing less than 1% of the U.S. population, it’s understandable that appreciation for the holiday has faded drastically. Fewer families have immediate family members who have served. Without that direct connection, many have a difficult time understanding exactly what it means to serve your country or why there’s a need for appreciation for those who have died doing so. Even less know what it’s like to know someone who has died for his or her country.
The men and women who gave their lives serving our nation helped defend our freedoms and liberties while preserving our country as a whole. They gave their lives so that each and every one of us could continue to live our lives as free Americans. As a nation, it is crucial that we never forget to honor those individuals who understood that freedom is not free, answered the call to defend our nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice for it.
This Memorial Day I urge you to do something different. Instead of just using the day to forget about work and celebrate the beginning of summer, attend a Memorial Day event. Watch a parade. Go to a remembrance ceremony. Visit a veteran’s cemetery. Help educate others about Memorial Day and bring awareness to the holiday. Whatever it is you chose to do, remember to honor those who so bravely died in service to our nation.
And for those of you who do remember what the holiday is for and choose to honor our fallen military members, thank you. We need more patriotic Americans like you who understand and never forget that there is a price for freedom.
Additionally published: http://www.examiner.com/article/memorial-day-is-more-than-bbqs-and-department-store-sales
Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberBarno