This is part 1 of a 2-part series for Memorial Day 2017.
Memorial Day is one of the most honorable and important holidays that our country celebrates. After the last 16 years of warfare there seems to be a lot more “opinion” about what should be done on this holiday, how it should be observed and what it is all about.
There are essentially three types of people in America that recognize this day. The biggest group is the normal every day American with no real tie to the military. The person that enjoys this weekend being the official start of summer, that likes the extra day off to start enjoying the warm weather. These are the people that plan for their first big BBQ of the summer with family and friends. They also like all the appliance and store sales going on this weekend. They are the ones that say Happy Memorial Day to not only friends but also make sure they say that to anyone they may know who is or was in the military. They tend to mix up Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and seem to bundle both with July 4th. They put on their American flag shirts and maybe even drag the flag out of the garage and hang it on the side of the house.
The other group is much smaller than the first as they are the military or are people closely associated with the military. The military that has served in WWII until today. They are the ones that froze in the Chosin, stomped through the rice paddies of Vietnam, sweated to death in the humidity of Panama, blasted through the breach on the Iraq-Saudi border, fought for their lives in Somalia, served some payback for the attacks of 9/11, and helped oust a ruthless dictator in Iraq. All of that plus many more unknown combat situations or served as deterrents to evil and helped protect our allies and interests around the world. This is a small but important group in the grand scheme of things. They are also the ones that are widely diverse in their opinion of this holiday. Some enjoy the BBQs and sales and others get offended that people even consider such a thing, but more on that later.
The last are the most important and the one group that doesn’t really need this day, the Gold Star families. They don’t need one day out of 365 to remember their loved ones. I guarantee you that every single day, all 365, are Memorial Days for them. It doesn’t matter if it is Christmas, a birthday or just any old day, they are always thinking of and missing their loved one.
So is this day for the Gold Star families who are in living every day like it is Memorial Day? I don’t think so. Is it for the Veterans who also don’t need Memorial Day to remember fallen comrades? I don’t think so either as they also think of their fallen friends many times a year, even if not as much as family members do. Or is it for the every day American who has no relation to the military? I say yes it is.
The Gold Star families and Veterans don’t need this day but I think are all honored to have it and are grateful that our country takes time to recognize this day so that the sacrifices are not forgotten. This day is for the first group, the ones who spend their year worrying about who is getting a rose on the Bachelor, what Hollywood thinks, which political party they hate, when they have to get that next teeth cleaning, or any other first world problem they may have. This holiday is to give them pause and make them take just a moment, even if it just a few minutes on one day to raise a flag, send a Thanks and Happy Memorial Day on Facebook to a person they know is a vet or put burgers from the grill on to a red, white and blue paper plate. That is who I think this holiday is really for. It is to make them pause, think, appreciate and remember.