When one thinks of Memorial Day, thoughts of parades, barbecues and other fun activities are often what come to mind. While some people enjoy the patriotic parts of Memorial Day, there are also some who think of it as nothing more than a day off. This was how I spent Memorial Day throughout most of my life. I would march in the parade with my high school's marching band and then enjoy the rest of the day spending time with friends. I rarely thought about the true meaning of Memorial Day.
This changed for me when one year on a whim my mom and I decided to visit a local cemetery on Memorial Day. Although many people would find the idea of going to a cemetery morbid, I've always found them to be quite fascinating and my mom feels the same way. While walking through the cemetery we made sure to stop at the graves of all the soldiers buried there. This particular cemetery is quite large and has graves that date all the way back to the 1800s.
To be able to see the graves of so many amazing men and women who have served our country was truly an eye opening experience. To stand before these graves and think of the battles and experiences these people had been through made the true message of Memorial Day that much more real. What began as a quick trip very easily turned into hours of walking through the cemetery, talking about all the different people and the rich history we were able to find, even in this small town.
What began as a spontaneous idea has since turned into our special Memorial Day tradition. Every year now my mom and I drive to this cemetery and spend an hour or two walking and visiting with the soldiers who are no longer with us. So many of these soldiers' graves sit completely unvisited on the day that is meant to be dedicated to them. For some, their families have all passed or moved away, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be remembered. Even though these are people I never had the chance to know personally, I still feel an amazing connection to them when I visit to pay my respect to their bravery on Memorial Day.
I encourage everyone to take some time out of their Memorial Day to do something to commemorate and give respect to those who have served our country. In our crazy and hectic lives, Memorial Day can often become forgotten about, shoved off as just another long weekend. However, when you really stop to think about it, Memorial Day is really so much more than that. This Memorial Day, try to make a small sacrifice of your time for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom.