Memorial Day

Memorial Day was established to show respect to our war dead; those who died to protect the freedoms and lives of others.  Now it has become a “Hallmark” (as in the card company) day for florists and balloon shops to sell junk to decorate the graves of anyone and everyone.  It is now only a national day to remember deceased grandmothers and grandfathers.
Adding to the event does not make it better.  Instead, it changes the focus from those whose self-sacrifice and devotion to others is remembered, into a general day for the dead.  That’s too bad.  I wish the focus remained narrow.  Those whose lives are currently in jeopardy should know that should they pay the ultimate sacrifice of their lives the nation will honor them.
I lost ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War.  Two great-great uncles (Owen and Paul) died during the first weeks of the Civil War in Northern Virginia.  My father fought and survived D-Day, and served during the Korean War as well.  He died in the 1990’s, but is a veteran of combat and was honored at his burial by an honor guard and a flag-draped coffin.  I still have the folded flag presented by the honor guard to my mother.
There is someone in my home town who goes to my father’s grave and puts an American flag on it every Memorial Day.  I do not know who it is and have never been there during Memorial Day.  However, I know it happens and I appreciate that someone knows he served his country while under German fire.
There is a family tradition that one of my ancestors was in Valley Forge.  I have not been able to confirm that.  They didn’t keep good records, but after the nation was established it was possible for veterans to apply for land grants to honor their service.  Those who applied for land grants were better documented.  Still, I haven’t been able to confirm the tradition.

All in all we owe a debt to those who have given us freedom that we cannot repay to them.  Sometimes when I contrast the devotion of those who sacrificed, to the profligate use of the freedom we have inherited, it worries me that we are squandering what took so great a price to confer.  We owe more to those who died to give us freedom.  We have an obligation to preserve it and hand it down to others as payment to those who sacrificed their lives.  Instead we are more interested in government becoming a tool to create financial benefits.  Freedom is being purchased away from us using both taxes and debt.  When it is gone, you have neither the freedom sold nor financial benefits promised in the sale; as the recently failed Soviet Block has proven for all history.

10 thoughts on “Memorial Day

  1. I agree totally with your post. We have made this a day to remember all dead not just veterans and it is a commercial disaster totally unrelated to what the day truly represents.

  2. I read this off of my friends blog today. It reminded me of the sacrifice that families make to have their loved ones off at war. One way I try to help my kids have respect for those who have sacrificed for our freedom is to read and tell personal stories found in old books and family history. These are the stories that tell the history of faith and sacrifice. Not a re-written text books…

    “I just remembered about something that I saw years ago. I was at the airport waiting for my flight. I was sitting in some chairs that were close to the gate where my flight was boarding. I was getting annoyed because a new flight had just landed and passengers were getting off in my gate. It was taking forever! I watched people slowly walk through the door out to the lights of the airport, some looking ruffled up, others looking stressed and confused, and a few that looked happy to be back on the ground. I noticed a lady with red hair standing at the gate with her son holding his hand. She was clearly anticipating the arrival of someone. With each person that stepped off the plane, she became more stressed or worried. I could tell just by the look on her face and how she was acting. It looked as though the passengers getting off were almost finished with just one or two coming now here or there. The women was now crying. I was trying to figure out what was going on…why was she crying? I was kind of amused by the situation. And then it all made sense. The last person that got off the plane strolled through the doors, a tall man wearing a military uniform. The boy ran up to him and jumped in his arms. The women was now crying even harder. She grabbed the man and gave him one of the most passionate hugs and kisses that I have ever seen (outside of the movies). I remember making a mental note to myself to always remember this moment.”

  3. My Dad (nearly 80 now) has done this with his American Legion group in a small little town in Idaho (Albion) for a number of years now. I’m glad someone has been kind enough to do this for your father too.

  4. I have lived in Korea, and Germany while my husband served in the military, been to war memorials honoring brave soldiers all over the world who fought protecting our freedoms, and been moved by stirring patriotic Memorial Day services on the foreign soil our troops died defending.

    You can pick your flowers or buy them, place a flag on a grave or not, visit a cemetary or not, but in my mind appreciating the sacrifices of veterans is not diminished by remembering our other dead ancestors and family. Other cultures have special days to remember the dead and memorialize them but we make do with Memorial Day. Having a son who died in infancy I appreciate a day when I can visit my beautiful grave site, bring flowers and flags. remember my great country in which God has provided me with blessings that I am continually indebted to Him for. I see nothing wrong with a memorial day that encompasses the memory of all our dead.

  5. Denver,
    Thank you. We treat lightly the sacrifices of our military. Many see the military as “a good job for the mediocre within our society.” While it may be just that, a good job…much of the time…it becomes something else entirely when you board a plane or troop transport taking you into combat. Then the prayers and the worries and the fears take over. Than the sacrifices of others who went before take on a far different meaning!
    I read last wk that Pres. Obama made a statement saying wounded veterans should not mind that the budget for treatment of the wounded is being cut…after all “they should be willing to sacrifice for their Country”. That coming from a man who has never sacrificed for anything higher than his own good!
    If ingratitude is a sin, which it is, many in America are guilty of that sin these days! Let’s keep Memorial Day a day to remember the sacrifices of those who gave so much…that others might live.
    US ARMY (RET.)

  6. Sorry men, I agree with Anonymous. Honoring all our dead does not have to diminish honoring our Veterans any more than loving your newest child has to diminish the love you have for the rest (though little kids often fear that is what will happen.)

    My mother never fought in any of the wars you think make veterans, but she fought every day of her life in the “war in heaven” which continues every day on earth. No one in my entire family would be free if she hadn’t done what she did to love and sacrifice for all of us.

    The danger is in not in the fact that we honor all our dead — the danger is that we are raising a generation of people who will remember and honor neither.

  7. Freedom? You mean the ability to terrorize other cultures, lands and people in order to “establish democracy”?

    I guess it depends on how you define “freedom,” but as far as I can tell, all of the deaths — military and civilian — have had a purpose. The poppy fields are blooming again, so that means the drug money is coming in again (I’m looking at you, Bush family). One more piece of the oil pipeline puzzle is closer to being in place. And of course, plenty of military contractors are building missiles, bombs, predator drones, depleted uranium ammo, vehicles, etc, so that means there are plenty of cush jobs over here for us. Thanks military-industrial complex! Thanks Uncle Sam! And just think, all it takes is a little blood. My brother, your son, a stranger, maybe even you, but it’s worth it, right?

    Indeed, I felt much more sadness during this holiday than in the past and truly felt – at least in my own very small and insignificant way – what my God must feel to witness such killing, maiming and profiteering in the name of freedom and democracy.

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