To have a family member brave enough to make the ultimate sacrifice.
We need to remember and rise up from their sacrifice. Let it strengthen us. We need to remember that this is not a holiday to party, but a day set aside to mourn. May 30th is not a vacation for everyone; while you pack your coolers, get ready for the national vacation day, and head to the bar because it is a long weekend, I hope you keep in mind what this day is about. It is not about barbecues, parties, drinking, or camping. Many holidays lose their actual meaning, but none so much as Memorial Day. Christmas and Thanksgiving may have started for a different meaning but they still achieve their purpose of bringing people and families together.
Memorial Day is often just seen as a day to party, drink, and spend time away from work. Falling on the last Monday of May every year the federal holiday is a day set aside to remember the people who have died in the armed forces. The ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country.
With nearly everyone I know, the sacrifice made in generations past is the farthest thing from their mind. While the day is spent playing in the sun, relaxing and drinking, Americans forget that without the people we are celebrating on this day, they would not be able to do anything they are doing. No sunbathing, partying, or drinking. We would not be The United States we are today without the strong bones of fallen soldiers this country is built on.
Traditionally on this day, the flag is quickly raised to the top of the staff, only to be lowered to half-mast immediately after to symbolize the loss. Then the flag is raised again to full-staff at noon to shown we are strong because of the sacrifice made. The position at half-staff represents over a million of fallen men and women of the armed forces. When we raise it back to full-staff we are raising their memory.
In school we learned about Memorial Day and the poem "In Flanders Fields," and we learned about the significance of poppies. It wasn't elaborated on, and it wasn't taught in the mandatory classes. I learned about Memorial Day in a special class where I mentored a 5th grader. 5th grade was the last time it was taught. From then on it was a holiday, a day off from school, a day to finally relax. How can we party and relax on this day set aside for remembering people dying for our rights?
On this day of remembrance we are supposed to be in mourning. This does not only apply if someone in your immediate family has lost their life in service of our country. It applies to everyone because we are all one country. If our country experiences great loss, it is a loss for everyone, not only the unlucky few that mourn the loss of our noble servicemen and women. A day to show the rest of the world that we have lost a lot, but while we were down we got stronger, and we stood up stronger to fight another day. A day to be proud of our country and all that we have given to be the country we are. A day to give our thanks to the fallen soldiers and their families for the sacrifice they have made.
Remember America, May 30th is not a holiday for everyone.