Remember the True Meaning of Memorial Day on Monday
Just two days ago, the woman walked up to me and said, “You’re a military man. What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?”
Wow! I thought. Here’s another opportunity to enlighten something on military knowledge.
As I thought about it, that is a legitimate question that many Americans, who do not have some type of connection the armed forces, do not know the difference.
As you know, Monday is Memorial Day. And while it is the unofficial kick-off to the summer, it will be a moment of solemn remembrance for a special few.
This is not the day to head to the ball field. Instead, the day is set aside to honor those servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can eat, play and shop.
It is also appropriate to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we owe a degree of gratitude to them.
As I have opined in this column over the years, I cringe when I see people holding picnics in the park or huge backyard barbecues and even making special trips to the shopping mall on this day.
Some, well-intentioned, say just lump all those who served in the armed forces under one umbrella this day. But I ask you not to. While we want to honor our veterans or those currently serving, allow the dead to have their own day.
Veterans and those still serving have their own observances. Veterans Day, observed on Nov. 11, is for those who served and were fortunate enough to come home.
And on the third Saturday in May, we observe Armed Forces Day, to honor those men and women currently serving in the military.
It is my humble opinion that when we insist upon making the holiday a catchall for recognizing everyone who ever wore or is wearing the uniform it cheapens Memorial Day and the honor due those who gave their lives for this country.
And while I am on the topic, it is the norm for us to wish each other a “Happy whatever day.”
Well, naturally this is not the holiday to wish someone happy memories. Instead, it is more appropriate to say, “Thanks for your service” or something to show they understood the true meaning of the day.
Since we are on the issue of service, have you considered doing your part to help make your community better? Just like those Sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines were making a contribution when their lives were cut short you can make a contribution – no matter how small.
You can volunteer at one of the many local nonprofit organizations or schools. There are countless youth waiting for a mentor or someone to read a book to them. If your schedule is as hectic as mine, it may be more convenient for you to write a check to help defray the monthly expenses.
Whatever you can do, just do your part.
By the way, don’t forget to pause at 3 p.m. on Monday for a minute of silent honor to remember why we are blessed with Memorial Day.
Yes, as Americans we love our three-day holiday weekends. We work hard, so when our governments and banks and schools and employers give us an extra day off, we splurge on choice T-bones and long drives on the open road. But I am imploring you to take a break, put down our forks, step away from the gas pumps and show some respect at 3 p.m. to those who have died in service to our nation.
In 2000, Congress established The National Moment of Remembrance Act, as an added way of honoring those who died in service to the United States. Americans were asked to stop for one minute at 3 p.m. because it’s likely when Americans are most enjoying the freedom made possible by those who died in service of their country. I trust you will be among those who remember to do so.