Many people may be confused about what Memorial Day is. I’m often singled out and thanked for my military service on Memorial Day. While I appreciate the sentiments, it’s not the holiday for that.
Veterans Day is November 11th and that’s the time to thank ALL veterans for their military service. Patriot Day is September 11th and that’s when gratitude should be expressed for all our First Responders.
Memorial Day, however, is a solemn occasion–a perpetual annual funeral–a time to reflect on the more than one million of our best and brightest… men and women who went off to fight for our freedom and gave their lives in its defense. It’s a day to remember those who came home and later died as a result of service-connected conditions. Many volunteered… and some were volun-told: no matter how they found their way into the ranks of our military, however, each took it upon him or herself to faithfully serve to their fullest.
The best ways to show your gratitude are to attend a Memorial Day Ceremony in your area. Contact your local veterans’ organizations to learn where such a ceremony will be held.
I would also encourage you, especially if you’re a parent, to plan a family drive and visit a state or national military cemetery around this time every year. The rows and rows of headstones and markers, every single one for the military servicemember beneath it, will make the point better than anything that I could post here. Look across that cemetery and then ponder all the graves in all 171 national cemeteries; and more than 140 State military cemeteries; as well as those servicemembers in countless thousands of private cemeteries, family plots and those cremated, buried at sea or never recovered… and it will serve to drive home the true cost of the freedoms that so many in our country take for granted.
Because it is the symbol of freedom around the world and given life with the blood of those who have served and sacrificed for it, the American Flag is never to be thrown away when it is worn, faded, frayed or otherwise no longer serviceable. Again, contact your local veterans’ organizations to learn where old flags can be deposited, so they can be ceremonially destroyed with honor and dignity, according to prescribed ritual.