When most of us see the words “Memorial Day” start popping up in our inboxes, one of the first word associations that comes to mind is “sale,” right? I mean, just about every store has one over the course of the weekend (including us). From there, our minds start to wander on over to other associated thoughts like barbeque, camping, picnics, relaxing, time with friends… And this is all especially attractive now that the world is beginning to reopen and we’re all feeling that pull to get out, see people, stretch our legs, and throw that summer kick-off party. A holiday that’s all about food, fun, and sun??? Just what the doctor ordered!
But the thing is, while sunshine and togetherness are beautiful bonuses of the long weekend, it’s not what the holiday is really about—not at its core. Remembrance is what the holiday is about.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who are no longer with us because they have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
Interestingly, veterans like my brother and I tend to get thanked for our service during Memorial Day weekend. And while the sentiment is very kind and we understand where it’s coming from, the holiday is not about us. Because, by the grace of God, we are still here. Thankfully, we are still on this Earth enjoying the sunshine. Enjoying the togetherness.
Memorial Day is for honoring and remembering those who are not. Those who gave everything for the freedoms we enjoy this weekend and every weekend.
The holiday was first established in 1868 to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. After the first World War, Decoration Day (as it was known then) was expanded to include all fallen veterans from any American war. And it is still so very relevant today…
In the past 20 years, more than 6,500 military members have died on duty, and an additional 100,000+ have committed suicide. Many of these fallen heroes were parents to young children. Somber? Yes. Painful to hear? Yes. But it’s our reality.
So does this mean we shouldn’t enjoy all the beauty and fun this holiday weekend traditionally brings? Absolutely not! These heroes fought so that we could enjoy times like these. They gave everything to ensure that we would have the freedom to relax. But while enjoying those peaceful, joyful moments, let’s dedicate space in our hearts and minds to remember what this holiday is truly about. And remember.