This last week was an eye opener for me. My grandfather and my uncle were Marines and served in World War II and Vietnam, respectively, so I was raised to respect our country, our flag and our soldiers. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear our national anthem because I have so much respect for it and for those who serve our nation. It saddens me deeply when people aren’t raised with such conviction.
I was at a class in Denver and we were messing around with dates in a computer system, and the teacher, a 48-year-old man, gave us the date of Dec. 7 to put in. A person in class said, “Pearl Harbor Day!”
The teacher replied, “What a random piece of information. Who remembers stuff like that?”
“It’s the day that will live in infamy. Who wouldn’t know that?” another student replied.
“Why do you say that?” the teacher asked.
“Because that’s what FDR said in a speech about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,” the student replied.
I was appalled. How could someone not know about Pearl Harbor Day and think it’s a random piece of information yet we know everything about Cinco de Mayo? How will we feel 70 years from now when our grandkids say, “September 11, what’s so special about that?” My heart grieved at this information I just took in. It brought me to think about Memorial Day and how our nation has gotten further and further from the original intent of this holiday.
How are you celebrating Memorial Day today? Are you just having a picnic at the lake or in your yard? Are we teaching our children that this day is more than a sign of the beginning of summer? My mother rarely has missed the services the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars put on at the cemetery on Memorial Day, and maybe that’s another reason I’ve not forgotten the purpose of today.
Since before the nation was a nation, men and women have died to acquire and protect our freedoms. Today is the day we honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by those in combat, those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.
Our soldiers and their families deserve to see that we as a nation do not take for granted the sacrifices they have made for us. We need to never forget. Armed Forces Day should not just be an afterthought. Veterans Day should not be just a day we get off work. Memorial Day should not just be the beginning of summer.
At my grandfather’s funeral, I watched as a line of soldiers stood in front of his casket and saluted him. I made it through his funeral without crying until I saw the respect that each of them held for him, young and old. I could not hold back the tears at the sight of this. Nothing touched my heart and left an impression like that did.
That’s the sort of respect and remembrance I hope to see this Memorial Day. Please remember what this day is for and get out today and, if you can, take part in the Memorial Day services at 11 a.m. at the Craig Cemetery. You also can participate in the flag dedication for the flag at Sandrock Elementary School at 2 p.m. If you live in Maybell, services there are at 3 p.m. I hope you can make it to one of these events, but at the very least, take a moment to remember what this day is truly about.