Memorial Day is a day for heroes. It is our opportunity – or rather, our obligation – to honor the men and women who have lost their lives in defense of our country and all it stands for. This is the day we pay tribute to those upon whom our nation’s character was built. When we talk about the greatness of the United States, we can only do so with a solemn acknowledgement of the many lives that have been taken from us to make it so.
Although Memorial Day – officially May 30th, but observed this year on Monday the 25th – first began in the aftermath of the Civil War, it has expanded to include all servicemen and women who have died in uniform.
It isn’t a holiday to celebrate the beginning of summer, although many people consider it so. It wasn’t created to provide an opportunity to go camping, or hit the beach, or watch TV. It was created to mourn the loss of our nation’s heroes, and remember what they did on our behalf. On the other hand, perhaps it is fitting that the holiday has evolved into an excuse to relax and enjoy life, because for most of our lives our nation has been safe – a tribute to the men and women of our armed forces who have done such a good job protecting us that it has become easy to forget how dangerous the world really is.
But we must never forget the cost. Remember that every time a military member falls, a family is devastated back home. Every time a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Coastguardsman dies, there are loved ones left behind who see a government car drive up, see the military representatives walk to the door, and hear the tragic news.
It is a scene that has been played out hundreds of thousands of times. We must remember their grief, because if we don’t we will become complacent. And we must honor their loved ones who fell, because through their sacrifice on our behalf they became the very embodiment of the word “honor.”
Remember them. Honor them. But not just today. Not just on May 30th.