In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I recognize Memorial Day each year in my own small way and reflecting on that this year, the “small way” stands out. Yes, each year, I post “Happy Memorial Day” and share a thought on Facebook. Usually, in the morning, I take a moment to reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in service of our nation. Whether they were serving because of a sense of duty, or they were drafted into service; whether the cause was worthy or not in our historical recollection should weight little, because, at the moment of their death, it meant everything.
What is Memorial Day?
Yes, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer and a day where many get together with family and friends to BBQ. But it is far more than that to many in our country, especially those who have lost a loved one in military service to this … to our nation.
Memorial Day became a National Holiday in 1971, but it was observed for much longer under different names that dated back to mid-1800s. You can read more about it at Wikipedia “Memorial Day”.
Please note Memorial Day is a day to memorialize those who have DIED while serving in the United States Armed Services. Veteran’s Day is a day to recognize ALL of those who have served in the United States Armed Services.
As with most holidays, commercialism has diminished the meaning of the day. Memorial Day Sale this and that, you get it. I also think the polarization that has divided our nation has diminished the significance. I’ll sum this up here by saying, Memorial Day should be a day, where no matter our political, religious, theological, social, etc. leanings, we should take a moment to recognize and thank those who have given their lives while serving in the United States Armed Services. Whether the war or conflict was just in your mind, whether their death happened in peacetime service, that person, a man or woman, on the front lines was serving to make our country … our world a better place. Don’t minimalize their sacrifice by clouding it with the division of labels. Take a moment, and thank them, the person, in your way. We owe them that recognition.
On a personal note, while I recognize there comes the point where we have to fight the evils of this world, I ask you to take a moment to reflect on how we can do our duty to ensure our political leaders do not take their authority to send our young women and men to make these grave sacrifices lightly.
What doe Memorial Day mean to my family and me?
In honest reflection, I have not done enough, posting on Facebook and silently recognizing Memorial Day is not enough. I owe those who have died serving in our Armed Forces more than a minimal post on social media and a silent thank you for giving their lives to protect the ideas of this great nation for ALL of our fellow citizens and those immigrants who make our country so great. I owe my kids the opportunity to learn why those brave men and women who felt they had to serve, along with those who were drafted into service lost their lives, protecting our way of life.
I have vowed each Memorial Day weekend to learn about someone who gave their life in the United States Armed Forces. This will include people from all walks of life, and all past wars, conflicts, and peacetime operations. I will share what I learned, with my family and others, hoping they will recognize this person with me. This is inspired by a post in the “Wednesday Wire” that my employer, Multnomah County, publishes weekly. You can read it, My Friend Passed. Being this article didn’t mention the person by name, I don’t count this as being my recognition for this year, I need to know my recognized person’s name. I will post this person’s story on Memorial Day.
Additionally, on Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be attending a Memorial Day Celebration event, this year, we will be at Oregon City Memorial Day Commemoration Service at Mountain View Cemetery.