Barbeques, games, and camping – The unofficial start of the summer vacation season. Many American families will enjoy an extended weekend of fun and freebies and give no thought as to WHY…Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? What is its purpose? How can we honor the sacrifices of the fallen with respect?
First of all, I’m glad that those of us who are able can enjoy the extra day off work to spend with family and friends. I’m pleased that millions of American families can enjoy a care-free and relaxing atmosphere in a free society. That’s why so many Veterans served to begin with.
It’s OK to enjoy Memorial Day. It’s OK to be happy and enjoy the rights that literally cost the lives of many young men and women. I don’t think they would want it to be a dark, gloomy, and sad day. It is my belief that those Americans who died would want us to continue a joyous life, but also pause momentarily and remember their sacrifice.
This reflection and observation IS the entire purpose behind the federal holiday… Almost everyone experiences this day differently. Mothers and Fathers mourn the loss of a son or daughter, children agonize the death of a parent, and servicemembers lament the moments when they observed that death occur. This makes Memorial Day a rather difficult time for many of us who have a personal attachment to the military.
One of our team members here at Wargasm has a deep connection to this day and has viewed it through the lens of Mortuary Affairs; “When preparing the deceased to return to their families you see parts of lives that were stopped short, sometimes self-inflicted.” This soldier has seen so many that this time of year brings about “A sense of guilt – that I can’t remember them all."
This is another group of Veterans that deserve to be highlighted - Those who have taken their lives after returning home. The endless pain and years of struggle that haunt servicemembers after wartime experiences sometimes ends abruptly leaving others confused and saddened. The daily statistics of this are troubling and are comparable to the number killed in action. We remember a friend whom we have chosen to memorialize in our organization and their story can be found in our About Us page.
No matter your personal experiences or involvement with the military, all Americans can take a moment and be thankful. This honors their service and respects their sacrifice and brings Memorial Day back to its roots.