I’m feeling guilty and a little conflicted. This coming Monday is Memorial Day and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m happy to have a day off, a long weekend including a trip ‘up north,’ a short week of work next week, and to have reached what the Today Show called ‘the unofficial start of summer.” There will be parades, and picnics, and ice cream, and red, white and blue stuff everywhere you look.
But wait - isn’t this a holiday to recognize the men and women who have died while in service to our country? Since the holiday was created around the concept of death, shouldn’t we be expressing a bit more reverence and quiet respect? Should we really be wishing each other a ‘happy’ Memorial Day holiday?
I saw a picture posted on Facebook yesterday of a young mother and her baby, laying on a photo-quilt in front of a military grave. It was a moving image, and a stunning reminder for me.
I recall visiting Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Memorial Day the year after my father died and was buried there. At the entrance was a solder standing in salute – still as a statue as hundreds of people came in a parade of cars to visit graves and pay their respects. Even the memory of that image puts a lump in my throat. And all the graves had a small US flag waving in the wind, along with flowers as far as the eye could see. It was as if the cemetery itself was decorated in celebration.
And that’s when I realized that we can do both. We can honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice by enjoying the life that it enabled. We can celebrate the lives of our deceased veterans by remembering them and by demonstrating how much we value freedom and country.
This year, think about doing just one little thing to help keep things in perspective: participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. At 3:00 PM local time on Monday, May 30th, take one minute - 60 seconds - to stop what you are doing and remember those who gave their lives so you could enjoy your freedom.
I just set my cell phone alarm to help me remember to remember. I hope you’ll join me.