Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, the time to hit the lake and to make the grill work overtime. This weekend I hope you are able to enjoy it by grilling up some hot dogs, pork chops, and OK, even a burger, since May is Beef Month. Just be sure to throw on a couple strips of bacon to top off that burger — it is a holiday after all.
While we’re all enjoying the long weekend, let’s not forget the real reason that we get Monday off (of course, hog farmers never get a day off). We get Monday off because some people, all too many, took off for lands far away and gave the ultimate sacrifice, their life for the ol’ red white and blue.
I’m fortunate to not have lost any friends to war, and the only family member I’ve lost was my grandmother’s brother Bud during World War II, the second war to end all wars. Though I never knew Bud, and have not lost anyone closer to me, I still hold Memorial Day in high regard.
The true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost over time. To many it’s a Monday holiday that kicks off summer. To many retailers it is a chance to pull out their red, white and blue buntings to promote great sales.
Memorial Day originated in the years after the Civil War, and was originally known as Decoration Day to pay homage to the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. May 30 had been set aside as the day of remembrance until 1971 when the last Monday in May became the official federal holiday. I think we should get an extra day off since this year’s Memorial Day meshes the historical and the more-modern day of observance.
Our family always marked Memorial Day by taking flowers to the graves of my great-grandparents and my brother, so I thought the day was set aside to remember all who have passed on. Though it is important to always remember our loved ones who have gone before us, it is most important to remember and honor the memory of those who wore a military uniform to protect our country.
Giving their lives so we can take a day off in late-May deserves more than a cookout or a 45% off sale. Remembering our fallen, family or not, should not be taken lightly. Their ultimate sacrifice allows us to have those liberties of a Monday afternoon grilling session and a relaxing boat ride.
Enjoy your freedom this long weekend, and thank a soldier who made it all possible.