This weekend is designated as time to memorialize. Two years ago (geez I can’t believe it has been that long) I wrote an opinion piece for my local paper after attending a Memorial Day Service. You know the saying… if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. So today I am reposting what I shared in 2010.
On May 31st the 21 gun salute echoed, the taps rang out, and the flags blew in the breeze at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Calhoun Cemetery sponsored by the McLean County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5415.
Words were spoken and songs were sung memorializing our County’s men and women who had made great sacrifices in the name of freedom. I watched as elderly men and women slowly made their way from their cars to the service lugging their lawn chairs and wearing various arrangements of red, white, and blue. In their eyes glared the memories of a war, most likely WWII, where they experienced the loss of comrades, received word that a family member was missing in action, or recalled the memory of sending their solider off to war. I hope you have not personally experienced the grief of war. The experience of my husband deploying in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, influenced my perspective and provided me a new-found appreciation for veterans and their families.
Even though my grandfather was a WWII veteran, I don’t recall attending a Memorial Service before my husband’s deployment because I didn’t comprehend or appreciate the value of the moment. Memorial Weekend was a time that kicked off the start of summer, family BBQs, summer sales, and a long weekend to relax. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit we still enjoy these aspects of Memorial Weekend in my family, but we have added a new tradition of “memorializing” the soldiers’ sacrifices that made this weekend (and the rest of the year) free to enjoy. Memorial Weekend holds a different meaning for me now; I am one of the lucky ones-my solider came home.
Each year, I try to attend a Memorial Service out of thanks and gratitude that my love one returned from war without any mental or physical handicaps. I attend because of the moments I get to share with him because he made it back to American soil alive. I attend for the holidays, the birthdays, the everyday moments that won’t be missed because he came home.
If you don’t have a soldier in your life that you can celebrate, then I encourage you to memorialize and celebrate the life of the many men and women who never made it home for holiday celebrations, for the birth of their child, for all the dreams and moments that were left unfilled.
I have traveled to many countries, all which offer amazing sights, great food, and fine people. Sure, there is progress and equality to be created here on our own soil, but there is no place quite like the United States of America.
And for a great place to call home, I thank the many generations of veterans who carved out the freedoms of our great nation.
I would like to take this opportunity encourage you to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day. Work or other obligations may prevent you from attending an official service; however, I encourage you to be grateful all year to the men and women who sacrificed all. Appreciate and take the time to explain to your children why we line our streets with American Flags this time of year, stop by and visit a memorial at a cemetery, tell a veteran that you appreciate them, and the next time you place your hand on your heart when you hear the national anthem, do so in honor of all the hearts that ache for someone who never returned from war.
Today my spoon is full of graditude for those that served the red, white, and blue!