With a warm and genuine smile on her face, the receptionist wished me a “Happy Memorial Day” as I left the doctor’s office. I can only imagine the expression that must have come across my face. My good manners kicked in and I managed to choke out a “You too,” as I walked out of the office, but my mind was screaming, “What, exactly, is it that you find HAPPY about Memorial Day?”
I remember a time in my life when I was personally unaffected by the tragedy of war and had basically been brainwashed by our society to think that Memorial Day was simply a holiday marking the beginning of summer, picnics, barbecues, and the promise of bargains to be found by serious shoppers. That time, however, was long ago.
Now, after ten long years of war, Memorial Day’s meaning has changed for me. I’ve watched my son go to war. I’ve watched him mourn the loss of his battle buddies. I’ve watched my friends bury their sons and husbands.
Now, as I walk alongside those who must continue on, despite the loss of the one who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for all of us, I find it extremely difficult to understand how anyone could combine the word “happy” with Memorial Day, and yet I realize that those who have sacrificed for our freedoms would want us to enjoy this holiday weekend. If asked, they would want us to honor their lives by enjoying American pastimes and spending time with family and friends. After all, they fought and died so we could live.
As we head into this holiday weekend, let’s celebrate the freedoms and the blessings we have been given as Americans, but let us not forget who made living this American Dream a reality. Don’t let this weekend pass without taking the time to honor those who stood in the gap and paid the ultimate price on our behalf.