Next Monday, May 26, is Memorial Day here in the States. It is a federal holiday to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
For many, the holiday has morphed into just another 3-day weekend where Monday’s events have little or nothing to do with Memorial Day.
There is some irony in this. Men and women who died serving in our military did so to preserve our freedom and security – to give us the privilege of choosing how we spend every day, including Memorial Day. While we dispute decisions made through the years about engaging in specific conflicts and wars, we cannot dispute that these brave men and women lost their lives for a cause greater than themselves. We owe them our remembrance.
National cemeteries, where Veterans and spouses are buried, all hold a ceremony on Memorial Day – lasting about an hour – that honors our fallen with speeches and music. These ceremonies are open to the public, and I encourage you to attend if you live near one of the cemeteries. Sadness, honor, respect, pride, gratitude, citizenship, family, military buddy, freedom, sacrifice, civil liberties – these are a few words and emotions I feel during this time spent honoring our fallen.
Especially poignant are the elderly WWII Vets in attendance – a number that noticeably dwindles each year – and the still strong brotherhood of those in attendance from the Viet Nam era.
Volunteers – usually on Saturday preceding Memorial Day – place a flag at every gravestone. On Tuesday, the day after, volunteers pick up those flags. Participating in this activity is open to the public, and is a moving and rewarding experience.
Please, this Memorial Day, take time to think about what this holiday means. Talk about it with your children and grandchildren. Visit one of the cemeteries online if you can’t go in person. I doubt there are many of you who haven’t had someone serve sometime during your family’s history.
For the many who gave their lives in service to our country, my everlasting gratitude.
In memory of:
Dad’s fellow Marines who died in the Pacific Theater, WWII
Ray Crull, KIA South VietNam 3/26/1970
Russell Rippetoe, KIA Iraq 4/3/2003
Danny Dietz, Jr., KIA Afghanistan 6/28/2005
Comments on: "Honoring the Fallen" (22)
Great post Sammy. While it seems these traditions and rituals are dwindling there will always be plenty of people like yourself who keep these things going in the spirit in which they were intended. Personally, in the UK I’ve seen attendance go up at our version of Memorial Day, Remembrance Sunday (in November) x
Thatnks, Lainey. You always say just the thing to give me hope. I know your country has been through so many strifes with us.
Sorry for your losses, and an excellent post. I will attend a cemetery ceremony. Never thought of it, but it sounds appropriate.
Thank you for listening. My grandkids get bored with the (short) speeches, but I keep reinforcing we are there to show respect and honor others. We take time to walk a few rows of graves with them to read names, dates, and military affiliation, and then they begin to realize it’s about real people.
The holiday used to be called Decoration Day and families would gather for a picnic at the graves of those who had gone on before. They would clean the grave sites and enjoy the fellowship of those still living. Our National Cemetery is close by and there are events there all day, ending with the motorcyclists coming in to honor the vets. It is quite impressive and very moving.
Thanks for additional information. Our National cemeteries are a treasure in so many ways. I couldn’t make the post too long; wanted to write about the poppies – next time. You are correct – i anticipate the events and they stay with me long after Memorial Day is over.
Beautifully put. I’m in awe of those who sacrifice themselves for our country. We just lost my Dad’s best friend, and he’d served three years in the Navy during WWII. They gave him a 21 gun salute.
Tina @ Life is Good
On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!
Thanks, Tina. I will think of your Dad and his BFF on Monday. My Dad is alive and doing well at 88. I love him so much.
That is a great post – and such an important point. It’s so common to forget the real point of a holiday and so important to take the time to appreciate and commemorate the men and women who sacrificed so much so we can live the way we do.
I know in the UK there’s big events being put up to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D day, and we’ve been following that through the internet. It was so poignant hearing the stories from some of the veterans, and it makes you realise just how lucky we all are that we never have (and probably never will) experience war like that.
On a lighter note, I’ve nominated for a Liebster award. I know you got nominated with me by Halley but I thought screw the rules. I really like your blog since I’ve discovered it so I wanted to give you a shout out 🙂 So there you are, a double whammy of nomination! 😉 And there’s something poetic about it too, since I discovered your blog through the Liebster award. Don’t feel like you have to do anything with it, it’s just a way of saying your blog is awesome! 😉
Thank you so much, Celine. You are such a breath of fresh air in my days! We were privileged to be at the Normandy, France site on our American Memorial Day a few years ago, and I will never forget it. The museum near there is such an vivid reminder of the evils of the Holocaust. I am very glad you share our appreciation for what men and women did to keep Europe free from that tyranny.
Thanks, too, for Liebster. I responded at your site. Will follow your lead on rule-bending 🙂
Oh thank you Sammy, that’s so sweet!
Oh you should definitely bend the rules, it’s much more fun that way!!!
Wonderful post. Thank you for reminding us what’s important about the day. We’re going to a waterpark hotel for the weekend. I’m going to see if there’s a national cemetery around there. Thank you so much for the suggestion. It’s because of those brave men and women that my family and I can safely enjoy a weekend of sun and fun.
Thank you, Carrie. I hope you have a great time at the waterpark. You can easily spend a little time online with your kids when it’s convenient- of course Arlington is the biggest and will have a good website, but it might be interesting to research where your nearest one is. It’s easy for me because we have one here in Denver. But online access helps if you’re not close to one.
Good idea. Thank you. 🙂
Thank you, Sammy D., for reminding all about honor and respect, both of which seem to be disappearing rapidly. I was at a meeting the other day where I saw a good handful of our vets told by the new regime of a club that the past was over, there are new rules now, and if they couldn’t get over it to leave. It was very sad. I, as usual, could not keep my mouth shut and reminded them that what they were arguing over would not have been there if not for the past and for certain veterans.
Almost all of my male family are vets, including my husband. I came of age in the Vietnam era and lost some very close friends as well. I wish there were no wars, I lived in dread of my children having to go fight, but that does not mean I don’t respect and honor those who do. And also, I worry about how we also fail their families at home.
Perhaps, an additional thought for this weekend, is do something to help our living soldiers families in some way, if nothing more than some bubbles for their child to play with. I remember struggling with all the bills on military pay, and being so stressed to keep the home front going that I was almost too tired to think of playing with the kids.
Thank you, Linda for all your thoughts. I cannot imagine treating vets like you describe. While I hate the thought of wars, I do think we lost something by eliminating the draft. We have become so far removed from military families, and that’s not good for us or them. Your suggestion about support is a good one – there are so many fine organizations that help – always needing volunteers and money. Easy to find with a little online research.
And I neglected to thank you and your family members for your service. I admire and respect everyone! Had lots of Marines, including Hub in my family.
Excellent reminder and a great message, Sammy. Thanks to all who gave their lives for our freedom. My father was career army and a Korean War vet but he survived the ordeal. In Canada, we have a similar day, called Remembrance Day, on November 11. It’s NOT a statutory holiday, for the very reasons you mentioned, although federal employees do get the day off. All schools and businesses stop at 11am for a minute of silence. We buy poppies from veterans to wear on our lapels for at least a week prior and every town has a ceremony to honour their fallen heroes. I agree with the commenter above that more must be done to help the living military personnel and their families as well. Both our governments need to improve in that area!
Thanks, Debbie for adding your thoughts. We celebrate Nov. 11 as well – Veterans’ Day. Memorial Day is for those we lost. We also buy the poppies and wear them on Memorial Day; I remember how special that felt as a child (still does). Thanks to your Father and all who serve.
I remember many a ‘decoration day’ when I was a child. When my dad committed suicide just before I turned 8 we went to a cemetery on Memorial day where there was a 21 gun salute…..I will never forget that day. It was a horrible experience. I will gladly remember all the vets, when I visit the cemetery, BEFORE the holiday But no more gun salutes for this gal. I don’t think we had any vets, that died during any of the wars , in our family. We decorate the graves of loved ones who have passed before us.
Nice post Sammy, a great remembrance. This week is fleet week in New York war ships come in and the city is flooded with sailors still serving. It is always an honor to witness.
I hear that can be very exciting 🙂