Memorial Weekend is upon us and, finally, the start of summer. There are many activities and events for this holiday weekend. Though the weekend may be fury of activity, we cannot forget the meaning of the holiday. Memorial Day is for those veterans who sacrificed their lives and who did not come home.
When I was six years old, I remember a man in a uniform at the front door of our house. The man didn’t have to say a word. Mom burst into tears and then so did Dad. I knew something had to be wrong with my brother, Cliff, because the man at the door wore the same Air Force uniform as Cliff.
Just one week before coming home permanently, Cliff was killed in a place called Da Nang, Vietnam. Cliff was twenty-three years old. The news hit our family and friends like an earthquake. It took years to build from the rubble and the scars are still there. There were over three hundred people at Cliff’s funeral. That taught me how one life can intertwine with many others; and that there are many names behind one name.
Through the years I learned what his death meant and to give purpose to his death which eased the pain. I learned what that piece of cloth draped over his casket was called “a flag” and what it symbolized. Through our country’s history I learned to understand what America is: that America has always been able to conquer its enemies and jump any hurdle; and that America’s beacon of freedom and liberty shines to the four corners of the globe.
I also learned that my family wasn’t the only family to go through this. Families throughout America’s history had to deal with their family’s sacrifice for our country –from the Boston Massacre to 9-11 and the war on terrorism and all the battles and wars in between. Except for everyday technological differences, there is no difference between the present Killed-in-Action families and past Killed-in-Action families. A sacrifice was made. There is a loss of a parent, child, sibling, or spouse: a place at the evening table is forever empty.
When you research and learn about America, the more proud you become of it. I learned the meaning behind the sacrifice of lives for our country. America, even with all its faults and imperfections, is still the best country that mankind has seen or created. That sacrifice cannot be in vain.
There are only two days that created our nation: Independence Day and Memorial Day.
Independence Day states in words the grounds for our freedoms and liberties. Words were not enough. Sacrifices had to be paid to gain the meaning of those words which continue to this day. Memorial Day is the day to honor those sacrifices.
There is one thread that runs through and connects all of us. A hero’s sacrifice was made for us. That sacrifice was from any racial or ethical origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political affiliation, profession, and gender. That sacrifice is a reflection of us.
Providence gave our Founding Fathers the spirit and principles to create a nation to which we live. Men and women in uniform have sacrificed their lives based on those principles. The most we can do is to try to live up to those principles ensuring that those who paid the ultimate sacrifice did not die in vain.
In the fury of activity this Memorial weekend, we cannot forget to honor these heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. Any personalized way you celebrate our heroes sacrifice is appropriate. We should take the time to reflect and be proud of the freedoms and liberties that we exercise daily: freedom of speech, worship, due process, vote, just to name a few. We should spread the meaning of this holiday to our children and grandchildren.
So take one moment this weekend reflect on the meaning of the holiday: to honor those veterans who didn’t make it home and to their families who never had a welcoming. One moment this Memorial Weekend is not much to ask when our heroes gave so much more than a moment.
I wish you an enjoyable Memorial Weekend! And God Bless.