Reflections on Memorial Day

I read the obituaries fairly often with attention to the age of the person who has passed. I always consider the age of the person and the time they had to attain certain milestones in their lives. It’s unfortunate, but some of these folks die at a young age and miss out on many of life’s greatest events; marriage, kids, grand-kids, etc.

I think most of us try to reduce our exposure to danger or death. There is a special group of people who willingly walk into situations that put them in harms way which sometimes leads to their ultimate sacrifice; these are the people of our armed forces.

Family of armed forces members who have died, live with that pain- something no one can take away. We can however, let these people know that we would like to share a little of that pain by taking a day to remember their son or daughter, wife or husband, mother or father; this week-end is Memorial Day.

Memorial Day has a fairly long history and has changed over time. This time of remembrance began three years after the Civil War. The time chosen for this observance was thought to be based on the bloom of flowers which would be wide-spread across the country. Memorial Day actually started as Decoration Day and was focused on those who died in the Civil War-a focus which changed to include all wars after World War I. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress. The first observance of Memorial Day/Decoration Day was at the Arlington Cemetery, located on the same ground as the Arlington mansion. Ironically, the mansion was once managed by Confederate General Robert E Lee.

There are several presentations on Memorial Day and I encourage you to attend. There are also American flags placed near the graves of service members. These flags are such a vivid reminder of what has been sacrificed, especially when you compare it to the whole population of a cemetery. Every one of those flags represents a person who went to war to keep safe the live we live today. In some cases, they went to war to repulse aggression into an allied country. Sometimes, it was fought to prevent the erosion of our ideals of freedom.

Memorial Day should be a time of patriotism however I believe it should also be personal; take time to think of why we honor those who have passed and the sacrifices that occurred because of their death. Think of all the lessons and guidance that a little boy or girl never received because of a soldier’s death or civic leadership lost. Think of what that soldier gave up-maybe they never even had a first love or got to have a first home or employment other than military.

Please take time on Memorial Day to pause and think about what had to be given for what you have and honor those who did the work and the dying to make it all happen. Please have a reverent Memorial Day.

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