Memorial Day in the United States is all about honoring fallen men and women from its armed forces. It is what is referred to sometimes as a civic holiday, that is, it is not actually a holy day, for it is not tied to any particular religion. And truth be told, in popular culture, it is not as grossly divorced from its original source as, say, Easter, but it is still commonly misconstrued. It has been my observation, that for every person who I talk to that honors the day as intended, there are a dozen more who only care about barbequeing, or the fact that this weekend was the official opening of many public pools.
There is no law requiring anyone to observe the holiday beyond possibly having the day off, depending on who you work for. And I can’t totally blame anyone for wanting to get their summer activities kickstarted, especially after a long, harsh winter like the one we just went through in the Midwest. That being said, I always want to ask people that I meet if they even remember why this day was instituted, and whether they truly appreciate the sacrifices made by the current, and previous generations of military men and women. I abhor war and log for a world that does not need militaries or weapons. I may not agree with the politics behind each conflict, but it is a fact that without those sacrifices having been made in the conflicts that were critical turning points in history, we would not have the luxury of swimming pools and barbeques, of first world problems like trying to get the best Memorial Day discounts on shopping, of wondering which movie to watch on a day off.
Though they were not members of the armed services, Memorial Day does acutely remind me of family lost along the way as well. My sister, who died many years before her time, and never had the chance to live a normal life. My uncle, who left this world too soon; a good man who sacrificed his health and his life to provide for his family.
Today I choose to focus my energy on the people in my life who are still here, and to appreciate their presence. To me there is no greater way to honor the sacrifices of so many who came before.