Memorial Day 2009

May 15th, 2009

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear” — Mark Twain

On Monday, May 25th, America will be celebrating Memorial Day. What Memorial Day means to the majority of Americans is simply a day off from work (for many a paid day off), outdoor BarBQs, the end of another school year, Memorial Day sales at the mall, time to get out the swimming suit and hope it still fits, family reunions, baseball season in full ‘swing’ and, perhaps most importantly, the nominal beginning of summer.

All fine and good — America needs a day off to celebrate these things after what was for many a miserable, cold winter.

As you have probably heard several hundred times now, the real meaning of Memorial Day is often lost in all the fun and splashing — that’s certainly one way to look at it. There are soldiers’ graves that go unattended and many people don’t spend a solitary minute on Memorial Day thinking about the soldiers who died to give them the opportunity to enjoy their lives — but many do.

I doubt if any soldier who died in defense of this country is ever really forgotten. Family doesn’t tend to forget their loved ones even from generations past. Good friends don’t tend to forget good friends they lost. There are plaques in many schools and public buildings devoted to those who died in defense of the U.S. Arlington National Cemetery has a public Memorial Day service every year. VFW posts in every city of any size are themselves shrines to those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have passed on, and even in small towns there are parades, picnics and speeches to remind the townspeople what the day is all about. Every year the President of the United States, with full television and media coverage, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every church, on that day or the previous day, will offer prayers of remembrance for fallen war heroes.

Stories, books and poetry also memorialize our fallen heroes. The American Hero is a poem written by Roger Robicheau to teach children about the importance of remembering these heroes. And the children learn:

The following was written by an eight-year-old from Madison, Connecticut:

“As the flowers rest on the decorated graves and the sunlight shines on the beautiful sailboats, Uncle Sam whispers in my ear about how we should care for the soldiers and remember the ones that have died. Swimming pools open, BBQs fry. Today is the day to think of what they have done for us. There are blurs of red, white and blue marching down the street and flags are lowered at half-mast. But we should always remember and never forget what set us free, from this very day on.”

Remarkable sentiments from one so young.

Many other speeches, poems and stories on the Memorial Day theme can be found here.

So while some forget to remember what Memorial Day is all about, many others will never forget, always remember, and some, like me, who have served in a war zone and survived know and will always remember that we owe our lives to those who didn’t.

Other Links of Interest:

Memorial Day, Wikipedia
The Memorial Day Poppy,

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One Response to “Memorial Day 2009”

  1. Tom |

    Well said. Like other holidays, Memorial Day has become just another day off for many people. One contributing factor may be the decision to move some holidays, including Memorial Day, so that they always coincide with a weekend. That makes it pretty clear that the three-day weekend is more important than the reason for the observance.

    Like you, I survived combat but lost many friends in the process. I don’t need a special day to remember them; they’re never far from my mind. It would be nice if the rest of the country, the people they died for, took Memorial Day more seriously.

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