I never understood why people add “happy” in front of the words “Memorial Day.” It’s more than a day off of work. It’s more than a day of picnics and barbecues and fun in the sun. Memorial Day was originally started three years after the Civil War ended by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) as Decoration Day. They decorated the graves of those who died in the war with flowers. Not exactly a warm, fuzzy feeling kind of day.
I took a walk in our local cemetery the other day. I found some GAR star graves. I found graves from World War I, World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf Wars. There are others; I just remember these. I thought of each family as I passed another little flag placed by each veteran’s grave. I thought of the family of Cpl. Matthew Wallace. I thought of my grandpa, finally reunited with his brother who was killed by a sniper in World War II. I thought of the countless others.
I don’t care what your thoughts are on the current war. I don’t care what your thoughts are about the military in general. Today I honor those that gave their lives, something that I’m not particularly willing to do myself, so that we can have picnics at our leisure. So that we can rant about the government on our blogs. So that we can tuck our overtired children into bed on a Monday night after a long “holiday” weekend.
I will never be able to thank them for their ultimate sacrifice. I will never be able to repay their families for their loss. But, as always, we will strive to make sure my children understand why we go to a parade on Memorial Day morning and why we stay for the speech and the 21 gun salute afterward.
We are grateful. And we remember you.