Why Memorial Day Matters: by Miriam Medina

The coffin of a veteran draped with the American Flag

Unfortunately, today, too many people look at Memorial Day as a recreational day, simply another day away from school or a paid day off of work. Military families and families of millions of veterans, on the other hand, have always been subjected to the pain and suffering of seeing their brothers, husbands or children go off to war, beginning with the American Revolution up until today’s actions in the Middle East, through the devastating Civil war, into World War I and II, and during the Vietnam and Korean Wars. To them, Memorial Day is a day to reflect on their loss and suffering, and to honor those that have served to protect America’s interests.

Saying goodbye to a loved one you might at no time see again is the most devastating feeling a family member may perpetually have, because they just never really know if that person is coming back. Their heart skips a beat every time that the doorbell rings while their loved one is abroad, performing the greatest duty they will perpetually perform as they defend justice and the pursuit of liberty. At home, though, their loved ones dread the moment they open that door, as the pulse quickens and horrible thoughts of a message of imminent loss haunts them. They fear answering the phone. They dread reading their mail. Life itself becomes a seemingly endless, helpless wait for news, hopefully good news, but potentially news of the worst possible kind.

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For some people, the lucky ones, they only have to endure the fear of losing a loved one in battle for a few years, but that in and of itself can have long-lasting, life altering ramifications. The fear causes great stress, making families walk on eggshells for entire tours of duty, as children go without their mother or father for long periods of time. For far too many, the news and the ramifications are worse. They lose a loved one to war, or their loved one is seriously injured, maimed, or psychologically damaged as they defend our nation and its interests.

Let’s not forget the veterans themselves and the sacrifices that they have made. We only need to turn on the news to see the hardships they face, the daily dangers they live with, and the horrors that they endure. Veterans are and have been our protectors, our defenders, and often at great cost, even for the survivors of war. War itself is hell, as the famous saying goes, and these many, wonderful men and women have entered hell willingly for centuries to protect the America that they love, and to build a future for all Americans.

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In almost any case you can think of, on Memorial Day, these veterans who protect us from dangers abroad, and who have protected us from dangers for hundreds of years, deserve our respect and our remembrance, and yet Memorial Day has turned into a cook out when you open up the pool for the summer.

“Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day.”

In days past, great parades were thrown in honor of these wonderful veterans. Cities and townships gave speeches and held Memorial galas. In Israel, to this day, to celebrate their Memorial Day, their television lists the names of all the dead that they have lost to war, and that simple process takes most of the day. Perhaps we don’t need to go to quite that extreme to honor the veterans who have served to protect us, but still, our ambivalence towards the true meaning behind Memorial Day is a bit much.

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It’s high time that we do remember the American veterans that have made Memorial day and those many cook outs and days off that the Holiday now symbolizes possible. This year, we should try to visit a war memorial, the grave of a veteran, or at least stop in a moment of silence reserved for the many who have sacrificed their lives to protect and provide the wonderful lives and opportunities that we have available to us today. This year, we should also honor and remember the many sacrifices of the families of all veterans and war heroes, because if you think about it, they sacrificed quite a bit for all of us Americans themselves.

History in all its manifestations is Miriam Medina’s passion, and she loves nothing more than sharing what she learns with everyone. Be sure to check out Miriam B. Medina’s Military history at: [http://thehistorybox.com/ny_city/military_nycity.htm] which would be helpful to understand why Memorial Day Really matters.

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