I grew up in a very small town in eastern Iowa with a population of 700 people. Each year my family would attend the town’s Memorial Day parade, and, as a young girl, I walked in the parade with my Camp Fire group. We walked through main street and finished our route at the cemetery for a commemorative service.
As I got older and entered high school, I had the honor of marching through the streets with the marching band and was able to continue to honor our heroes in one way or another.
Fast forward a few more years: I’m now an adult with children of my own and have little reason to march in the town parade. But why have I stopped attending the Memorial Day parade and services?
Sadly, I think this might be the case for many of us, whether we’re busy, simply forget or whatever the excuse. The millions who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom gave selflessly for our country, and yet it is so easy for us to selfishly forget what Memorial Day is about.
Memorial Day started as a holiday to remember the fallen during the Civil War. Now Memorial Day serves as a day to commemorate all men and women who died while in military service. And rather than preserving Memorial Day as a day to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for us, you can say Memorial Day, like many holidays, has been commercialized.
Emails will inundate your inbox from various retailers offering discounts and sales. Local grocery stores will offer big breaks on hot dogs and hamburgers. Even J&P Cycles typically joins in with a Memorial Day sale. It easy to see why we’ve forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day.
A long weekend with an extra day off work (for many of us) allows us to spend more time with family, barbecue some hots dogs and drink a few brewskies.
But this year, while you’re enjoying time with family and friends, I challenge you to remember the real reason for Memorial Day. Take a moment to remember and be grateful for all of the lives lost for our freedom. If you have the opportunity, be sure to thank a Vet. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today.
What you can do to honor fallen heroes on Memorial Day:
- • Visit your local cemetery and place American flags or memorials on military grave sites, as well as those of your loved ones
- • Lower your flag to half-staff from sunrise to noon on Memorial Day, and raise it to full-staff from noon until sunset
- • Observe a time of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time for remembrance and prayer
- • Offer a personal word of gratitude and comfort to any surviving family members of beloved warriors fallen in battle
- • Check out the local Memorial Day activities in your area
This Memorial Day, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few moments to remember and reflect on the lives sacrificed for our own freedom…to live and to ride.