This weekend is the Memorial Day weekend. A time where there are picnics and sometimes parades. My Facebook feed has been filled the past few days with memes of Memorial Day.
It is true that this weekend marks the beginning of summer, of course it does, it is the end of May and June is next, the schools are out and the weather is increasingly warmer and the calendar is in order, May, June, July, August, the summer months.
People do use this weekend to mark the time to start the onslaught of potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs and grilling out. I think they would do this even if it was not a three-day weekend here.
Yes, there are mega-sales in all the stores. Retailers, given a reason to grab money will use any three-day weekend to draw crowds and move merchandise. It’s a given.
The notices on my Facebook feed remind everyone that Memorial Day is different from Veteran’s Day, and Armed Forces Day. A part of me is glad to see that people are aware of the difference, but, there is a part of me that looks at those memes and says, “Well, duh!”.
Maybe this is because as a child we were taught that there was a reason for Memorial Day. Maybe because we were the generation born after WWII, with our parents still having the memories of that great war fresh in their minds that we knew this day was a somber reminder of those who gave their lives in order for our lives to be secure.
Growing up in the midst of the Viet Nam war made an impression on me. Each Memorial Day my dad would take us for a walk to a cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony. A time where there were old men speaking in hushed tones, a gun salute, bugles playing. This all crept into my heart and resided there. There was a reverence for those who had fallen. This also made me wonder why I felt like the war in Viet Nam was not getting the same rep. I confess there were often times after seeing the newspaper and television reports that I could agree with the protestors. The draft was a huge topic growing up. I had mixed feelings on that until, as a senior and dating my hubby that I realized he could be drafted.
Hubby and I talked about the draft all the time. His friend had a number that was below number 25, he was certain to be called up. Hubby’s number was in the 300’s. About that time, the draft was ended. His friend stayed home. Hubby enlisted.
To many people, it appeared that hubby served in peace time. A time where there was no danger, no difficulties. But, for the first 15 years of his enlistment, his commanders would recommend that they not wear their uniforms off base, as military was not accepted. There were still too many harsh feelings concerning the Viet Nam vets. I was always proud of the uniform he wore. I was proud of the job he did.
My personal belief is that each generation has a duty to recognize and respect those who have served. I also think that the term ‘peace-time’ is a fallacy. There is no such thing as peace when each country has a military to defend its borders. The men and women who choose to serve this great country of ours deserve respect. They are going places and doing things most of us would not do. The military does not question, they go.
I have a picture of my dad and his brothers all in their uniforms during WWII. They stand together proudly, it is a wonderful picture. They were a sampling of the brave men who defended us during that war. They are all gone now, as many of their generation are.
Now we will begin to see those who served and fought in Viet Nam start to dwindle in numbers. Hopefully they will finally get the acknowledgement that they answered a call, they served when it was not popular, and some of them returned to a nation that was not grateful. I pray that those who were lost in this war get the respect and honor they deserve.
Yes, Memorial Day is a day that raises many questions for many people. Today, this weekend, there will be families who will receive a phone call or a knock on the door with terrible news that a loved one has been lost in action. It is for these families, like generations of families before them , that we stop on Monday and remember. We need to solemnly stop and remember why we can laugh and swim and picnic and eat a full meal in peace. We can swim and go to the beach and not worry. We can live in this country because of the men and women who gave their lives for ours.
I know this has been a soap-box post from me, and now, I will step down from it grateful for what I have because of those who gave the ultimate gift. DAF