Thoughts on Memorial Day
You can read about the history of Memorial Day HERE. The following paragraphs stood out to me when I was looking for the link to add to the post.
Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country."
Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
When I read both I was saddened. People can easily be distracted from a time of remembering those who gave us our freedoms but these same people will spend months at a time planning vacations, Christmas, birthday parties, weddings, etc. I can't wrap my head around that fact.
When I read those paragraphs, I could not help but remember the last year I taught school. There was some sorta mix up with the total of school days and because of this, we had to go to school on Memorial Day. Let's just say, I was not the only one who was highly upset with this. No matter what suggestions were offered, administration would not back down on attending on a holiday. There was a staff member who spoke up about not being able to go boating with their family and how they always had a big cookout and what not at the lake. It took one very sweet and knowledgeable lady to explain to those who did not know the true meaning of Memorial Day. I will never forget how she explained that Memorial Day is not about boating, cookouts, and get-togethers. She went on to tell that it is a day to remember those who died while fighting for our country. It is a day to mourn and remember the ultimate sacrifice these men and women gave at a time when our country was fighting for our freedoms.
Today, our family did something that we have never done and hopefully it will be something that we can continue. We visited The National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. I would never say it was a somber visit; it was an enlightening visit for me. I was able to see over 18,000 graves. Not all the graves belonged to servicemen; many belonged to their wives and even their children. Many had names/ranks/years/wars listed while almost as many only had a marker with a number or "Unknown Soldier" on the headstone. Seeing these headstones and markers made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. If it were not for these people, we may not have our freedoms.
I am thankful for those who serve in our armed forces. I am thankful for those who send a spouse or children off to war. I am thankful to those who have lost their life so I could sleep peacefully at night. Most importantly, I am thankful to a heavenly Father who allowed me live in this great nation, so I can remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
I'm not saying there is nothing wrong with taking a day and celebrating the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, or just a day off from work. I'm expressing a need to stop and ponder about the real reason we have this day.