Today is Memorial Day, a holiday that for many people signals the beginning of summer. Amusement parks and pools are open. The school year is winding down. Many people gather with friends and family to cook out and eat a picnic. However, we would be remiss it we did not stop to ponder for a moment what this day is really about.
Today is Memorial Day, a say set aside to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. The origins go back to the mid 1800’s during the time of the War Between the States when flowers were placed on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. Many will visit cemeteries and place flags and flowers on the graves of those who served in the various military branches. The President traditionally visits the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery to place a wreath. Around the nation there are parades and services to commemorate the day. It is worth noting the word Holiday is a combination of two words “holy” and “day” and was originally a day of dedication to religious observance.
However, it is easy to get so caught up in the thrill of a three-day weekend that we forget what this holiday is about and the price that has been paid so that we can enjoy it. It was recently pointed out to me that wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day” is a bit of an oxymoron. Happy is a word that has connotations of pleasure, enjoyment, gladness; hardly words that fit with death and battle. Memorial Day is a day that reminds us that our history is “messy.” Ours is a country that was born out of struggle and has been in and out of struggles since 1776. The price of freedom and democracy is high and this is a day to remember those who were not only willing to pay the price but did pay the price.
Yes, our history is a messy and we are tempted to forget that. The result of the Revolutionary War produced a republic that is itself rather messy. In fact the only thing messier than democracy is the lack of democracy. Today, we continue to see those around the world that fear freedom and democracy and instead seek to intimidate through fear. We must continue the struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and ability to continue this struggle is made possible by those we remember on this day.
So, I would encourage you to take time this day to remember the sacrifice that those have made for the greater good and I would say to you, “Have a Good Memorial Day.”