Memorial Day is the day in the United States that marks the unofficial start of summer…it’s also the first national holiday after New Year’s Day where most businesses are closed. So people generally look forward to Memorial Day Weekend with major anticipation.
What gets lost in the parades and barbeques and never-ending Baggo games is the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. Wikipedia defines Memorial Day as “a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.” In other words, giving thanks for those young men and women who gave their lives to ensure our freedoms…my freedom to worship as I choose, my freedom to publish this blog.
The sacrifice that has been made for freedom started with those who originally fought for it in the Revolutionary War and continue today. Many times, it has been the ultimate sacrifice, but there are those who have sacrificed for “the cause.” Veterans who have returned, missing a limb or carrying the weight of memories too horrible for most people to contemplate. The loved ones left behind, who tried their best to send the boys “over there,” only to realize later, it would be the last personal contact they had. The housewives during World War II who did their best to make oatmeal and potatoes taste like meat when ration coupons ran out mid-month. Children who lost fathers, uncles and older brothers while collecting rubber and newspaper in scrap drives.
My father and uncles were all in the Armed Forces during World War II. One of my uncles was deployed to the Pacific Theater and one worked for the government. My father was an MP (Military Police), based in New Jersey on account of a bad elbow, and forever regretted not being able to participate in the “real war,” as he called it. And my mother and my aunts were at home, praying their men would return unharmed.
I have a locket that my dad sent my mom during the war. It is a cheap little piece of jewelry that Dad picked up one day at the PX. Mom is still amazed that I really wanted that necklace, but to me, it really symbolizes that not everyone “fighting the war” is on the front lines.
I pulled it out of my keepsakes this morning and spent a moment saying a prayer for those lost, those who lost someone and those still dealing with the difficult memories. And a prayer of thanks that they believed in freedom.
And reminded myself, today is not just about the barbeques.