The meaning and observance of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is more than a holiday that kicks off summer and leads to a three-day weekend. For me and thousands of others, it has personal significance and meaning.
This is how our country must honor our fallen warriors. It is a day I’ll always remember and think of each Memorial Day more than being at the end of May, ready for Summer – in all fairness, I imagine those as I did in my child and adolescent times.
Memorial Day is that one day per year that our country looks at those who perished as a cause of war. Although, certainly as I have gracefully aged just a bit I have found that those who have experienced serving in the military – deployed or not – view other days almost with the same reverence, such as Veteran’s Day, 4th of July, and for some even Easter Sunday.
I have visited Arlington National Cemetery many times. Walking through the cemetery always feels like an exercise in unexpected pauses, allowing you to absorb the magnitude of the stories within the seemingly endless fields. Moving through the fields of white headstones is like a journey through decades of stories that are ever present.
The white headstones are simple: each includes the name, branch of service, date of birth and death, and perhaps a detail about rank or awards. But each is a journey in time; each is a narrative; each is a story of sacrifice. Everyone is unique but they have so much in common because of their dedication to their country.
But there seems to be an oddity with every stride I take at Arlington. Although there does exist war and/or battle stories being told in humor there, one also feels a sense of comradery as if one knew personally those souls resting there.
In the politically charged climate of 2017, Memorial Day is a way to remember that we need to honor the men and women of our armed forces and that they are comprised of diverse backgrounds from across our country and the world. Each and every one of them took the same oath to defend our Constitution and made a commitment to be a part of our nation’s military.
So, as we reflect on the significance of Memorial Day, as we participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” by pausing for one minute of silence at 3 p.m. local, as we fly our flags at half-mast on until noon, and as we remember those that have paid the price in defense of our nation, we should also take a moment to remember that there are many more that will come from all over our country and around the world as they always have, ready to protect our freedoms.