Well, it’s Friday. It’s the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend. “Memorial Day.” Do the American people understand its significance? Do we have an understanding of its origins? My words pale in comparison to the words of a Gold Star Mother…
“Every April, tension builds inside my heart anticipating the upcoming holidays. Mothers Day, May 10. Bam! A reminder that my precious 29-year-old firstborn is gone far too soon. Memorial Day, May 25. Whap! A reminder of how my beloved son was killed. Father’s Day, June 21. Bam! Another punch in the gut. July 4. Boom! Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, my son died for others’ freedom to fight or to do in their own eyes whatever is right. The first time I heard The Star Spangled Banner after Kristoffer was killed, like a piercing wail of death, our national anthem doubled me over in pain, enraging me to my core. Now when I hear the tune or the words, the mourning song of my heart streams liquid down my cheeks.”
Too many people think that Memorial Day is just one of our coveted holidays away from work. It’s a day that brings families together for cook-outs, fireworks and parades. But, even standing roadside watching the ranks of camouflage Heroes march by, drive by and pass by riding motorized wheelchairs, many fail to grasp the sacrifices this special group of Men and Woman had to endure in the name of America.
Over 1,000,000,000 Americans were wounded or killed and over 30,000 missing in WWII ALONE. And, WWII veterans are dying at a rate of about 5,000 per year. In fact, since the beginning of Our great nation to the most recent action in Yemen, over 1.5 MILLION Americans gave up their lives, another 1.8 Million suffered life altering wounds and another 41,000 are missing presumed dead. The blood of these American Heroes guaranteed Our future would be safe from the horrors other peoples suffered and are currently suffering around the world.
Once upon a time as a child, I didn’t fully grasp the suffering, the struggle and the deeper meaning of Memorial Day. My time in the U.S. Army changed that. At the time of my enlistment, I still didn’t understand the significance of my decision. However, as any Veteran will tell you, their sacrifice, the sacrifice of the service member’s family is fully realized quickly. So, in the words of the Gold Star Mom quoted above,
“Don’t you get it? People died for you and for the freedoms you take for granted.”
Try to remember this while you enjoy your Memorial Day BBQ with friends and family.