I love a good barbecue, but sometimes I feel guilty thinking that possibly we don’t always take the time to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day. Maybe I’m not alone in that feeling. After all, it was not until 1971, during the height of the Vietnam war, that Memorial Day became a national holiday in the United States.
Nearly four months ago, while attending a memorial service for a departed friend of mine, I was reminded that nearly all of us, without exception, have reason to reflect upon the true meaning of Memorial Day, not just on its officially designated day, but nearly everyday that we go through life’s motions.
During the presentation of my friend’s eulogy I learned that when he was a boy that he lost his older brother who was serving in Vietnam. As it turns out, the fact that his brother represented Wicomico County’s first Vietnam War casualty is sad in and of itself. To me, the more hellacious take away from the service is how the deceased lived with his grief nearly everyday for over 40 years.
As is in many families, my friend idolized his older sibling. He was his hero and role model who was suddenly snatched away from him during his formative adolescent years while serving our nation honorably in a distant land.
I am certain, as evidenced by the fine qualities embodied by my deceased friend’s sons, that the values of love, honesty, service, and integrity were passed from the Vietnam war generation to the next.
This traumatic experience, no doubt, has been shared thousands of times by American families and no family, presumably, has been left unaffected. I know that my mother, for example, still thinks about a relative that she lost as a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II.
So, why not take time today during your family barbecue to obviously enjoy your food and fellowship while also taking some time to share stories of loved ones lost in the service of our nation?
It could be therapeutic for some and certainly educational for many of our younger family members to listen to the stories and reflect upon the meaning of family, country, and service. Remember that your kids learn their values from you. Today serves as a wonderful opportunity to show them what you value!
I wish I could guarantee perfect weather for you on this Memorial Day. Even more I wish that I could guarantee that each American would take the time to honor those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.
While it will not be as warm as yesterday temperatures will be in the 80’s and some of us may experience scattered showers and thunderstorms before day’s end. Tuesday should be warmer. Whatever the weather, enjoy your barbecue and remember that you’re free to enjoy seconds because of those who’ve gone before us.