Three years after the Civil War ended, Decoration Day was established as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all over the country on that date. It’s now called Memorial Day and is celebrated on the last Monday of May.
Memorial Day today seems in many ways to be just another 3-day weekend. Of course you will see red, white and blue paper plates and napkins at backyard barbecues. You might also see some flags in the front yards of some homes. And of course, there will be memorials in most cities. However it seems to me that too often Memorial Day has just become the summer kick-off. School is out. Vacations begin. Swimming pools will be opened. Cold beer, grilled burgers, corn-on-the cob, watermelon and ice cream will be served. All of this is good stuff but it misses the point.
My son is a Master Sergeant in the Air Force and he has seen the horrors of war. Brave men and women like Tyson take up arms and “do their jobs” everyday. Their mission is to protect our way of life. And they do this without question and often at great personal hardship. As a citizen I appreciate and applaud their sacrifices and service to our nation. Tyson is one of the lucky ones – he’s survived two deployments in Iraq. Unfortunately many others have perished.
Of course I love my son and I am proud of him. I also love my country and am proud to be an American. But I hate war. And I would ALWAYS choose diplomacy over conflict. Even a “just war” kills innocent people. War is not pro-life; war is never a good answer. But regardless of my political beliefs, I believe that all Americans should honor the men and women that have given their lives in performance of their duty. In defense of freedom; in the eradication of terrorism, in the protection of human rights; these men and women deserve our respect and remembrance.
In 2000, to ensure that the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes would never be forgotten, the U.S. Congress created “The National Moment of Remembrance Act”. The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
So this Memorial Day, in between the barbecue and the beer and playing in the backyard, I will take a moment (or two) to thank the brave men and women that have served our nation, especially those who have died.
P.S. Thanks Ty!