Memorial Day for most Americans meant great shopping deals, the start of summer vacation season, fireworks, traveling, warmer temperatures, the Indy 500 and pool openings. Yet think for a second how you would feel if your father or brother had died in the war and people were out enjoying their time off and never for a second stopped to understand why they are off in the first place.
Memorial Day is a sacred United States federal holiday which remembers and honors service members who’ve died while in service to their country. This date itself has been changed over the years but is now observed on the last Monday of May. Originally it honored Union and Confederate soldiers following the Civil War. Three years after the Civil War ended the head of Union veterans established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. This day was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The day of honor was extended after World War I for anyone who has died in all wars. Begun as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day became the occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people began visiting the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. There are memorial services at national cemeteries all over the country for service members who’ve given the ultimate gift for our freedoms.
When I researched a little for this piece I found something I didn’t know. On every Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time a long standing tradition encourages Americans to partake in a moment of silence to remember and honor those brave Americans who have died in wars. I think this is one of those small gestures in a huge impact kind of things. Imagine if everyone at 3 p.m. would have stopped whatever they’re doing to just be silent and still for our service members and their sacrifice. It’s an excellent way to honor and show respect to those brave individuals who gave up so much for you and me.
Also if no one noticed the flag was raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remained only until noon. It was then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolves not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. This also lets us keep in our minds the ones who are deployed now in harm’s way now and in the future.
For most of us with any form of military influence in our lives this day means so much more than beach days and fireworks. Our lives are saturated in patriotism daily so the majority of us on bases across the world take the time out to pause in reverence out of respect, honor and admiration. We remember those who we know who are at war in harm’s way constantly at this very second fighting for us back in the states. We remember those who’ve died in past wars and made it possible for the military men today to enlist and serve their country as they did long ago. We remember those who we know who’ve recently lost their lives in the war which make this lifestyle all the more real to us. All of these outstanding and courageous service members who gave their lives in support for this country do so willingly to protect our country’s future. This unconditional commitment to duty and country is why I love the military life; cherish my husband, our Marine family & the Marine Corps.
–I couldn’t write this without putting in here a small portion for the families. It is hard enough being a family member or loved one of a service member and having them wounded, ill or injured is even harder. Yet for those who’ve lost that second half of themselves completely is something no one can fathom or imagine unless you’ve been there. My heart aches for these wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, of these service members. As the days go by I hope for peace of mind and heart knowing you’ll meet again someday. For my friend who lost her Marine in the war almost a year ago I love you and can only tell you that you are a brave and courageous who has a very loving and adoring guardian angel watching over your family. Whether you know it or not you have the strength that most women cower from in times of struggle and grief. You are so loved and have such a circle of affection and support around your family. I hope you’re getting stronger every day and can trust you’re gaining knowledge, strength, support and comfort from other Gold Star wives.