The Meaning of Today

I am conflicted. I really don’t have to tackle the issue of what means Memorial Day with my children yet (they are 3 and 7mo), but I feel a sense of conflict over how to approach the day with my family. Should we go out and buy a new car? Should we go put flags on gravestones or attend a parade? How are we going to spend our “bonus day” this year?

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None of us are former or active military. The girls don’t have any friends with military members of the family either. Yet, I feel compelled to talk to them about why we have “3 stay home days” in a row. It is a special treat to get an extra day with mommy and daddy, and I believe my children should understand why we get this family treat.

For some people this is the un-official start of summer. It is a time to hit the beach, or maybe fire up the barbeque and crack open some ‘cold ones’. Our economy relies on this summer kick off weekend. Many businesses and employees get their entire year’s income from the summer season and that season has a beginning middle and end. There are ice cream stands, landscapers, and seaside businesses that need the sun and warm temps to keep a roof over their family’s head. This is a concept not to be taken lightly.

For other people, this is a time to reflect to think about the loved ones who aren’t present at the barbeque, who won’t be there to take a dip in the ocean with their kids or grandkids… it is a time for remembrance and memorial. There will be parades, and celebration of those souls who sacrificed all so we may enjoy this time of year… but how many of us truly take a moment to remember?

Sadly, the commercial side of the holiday gets 99.9% of the airtime. People want to sell new cars, mattresses, pools, and sofas in loud obnoxious television and radio commercials. Those retailers want you to be HAPPY and upbeat about spending your hard earned dollars, they don’t want you thinking about dead people. That isn’t going to help them sell, sell, sell!

By nature, I am not a particularly patriotic person. I often feel a sense of national shame, not pride of the way this country behaves in the international community. But this isn’t about me. Those brave men and women, who leave their families and go out into the world to do they believe is right… those souls deserve one day a year to be remembered. Those families deserve to know that one day a year a nation is grateful for the sacrifice of their son, daughter, husband, brother, sister, and friend.

So enjoy the sun, warm weather, family and friends… but take a moment to say to your children “today we think of others, we think of those who paid the ultimate price so we may enjoy an extra day together.”

To those brave men and women, I say thank you. To the families that mourn them, today a grateful nation is better because your loved one was brave enough to commit to an idea bigger than themselves, they are not forgotten. Thank you.

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