Memorial Day 2010

Today is Memorial Day.  It is not a time to jump for joy that your office is closed or that the children are out of school or to shop super sales, cook hot dogs or to jmup in the family car to begin  the summer get away season.  As Americans we have become a nation which does not honor the sacrifice and death that has made it possible for us to have this national holiday.  If you are someone who abhors war then this is a day that you should celebrate.  Without the deaths of those who have gone before you, you would not have the freedom to stand up and oppose war for the sake of war.  Without those deaths from the past 250 years, you might not be under the flag of the United States, but some other country.  Many times in our history we could have just as easily been English, French, Spanish or under the flag of Mexico.

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. In the south decorating a grave for the purposes of remembrance is called “Decoration Day”.  When I was a child I can remember my grandmother talking about “Decoration Day” and what she had to prepare for that day.   It wasn’t until 1971 that the date we set aside to honor and remember was established to be the last Monday in May when we honor all of those who have served, fought and died in the defense and preservation of this country, known as Memorial Day.

How do we observe Memorial Day in the United States?  Traditionally we fly our fags of the United States at half mast from dawn until noon.  People visit cemeteries and memorials to honor all those who have died in military service and traditionally place a flag there in the ground at the grave site.  Parades are also held in some parts of the United States.

Last week a veteran solider was standing outside my local supermarket with his donation can and the traditional red poppy.  I watched as person after person zoomed by him without looking at him, donating or saying “Thank You”.   I felt ashamed and saddened by the lack of respect shown for what the man stood for and why he was standing there.  If you are one of the thousands who have been touched by a loved on or someone you know that has been killed in the service of our country, you would have a different take on this National Holiday.  When I came up to him and looked him in the eye and gave him my donation and he gave me my poppy I felt proud to have acknowledged him and what he stood for standing there.

Each of us comes into the world naked and without knowledge.  Each of us will leave this world through death, and there is no escaping it.  With each breath you breathe today is another moment closer to your own death.  How will you be remembered for what you did for someone, for your country, for your community,  for your……

Stop today and educate yourself and your children and say thank you if you have the chance.  Go to your local cemetery and I know you will find plenty of graves with flags on them this day.  If you know someone who is in the military service in your business, neighborhood or family, call them up and say thank you for their service to you.

I have lived a great deal of my youth outside of the United States and I know what it is like to be outside of her borders and to be the stranger in a strange land.  Our military servicemen and women are living that everyday and risking their lives in service to you and to me.