How do you write about the most solemn date on our country’s calendar? How should it begin? I don’t know the answer either of those questions. So I’ll just go with what’s in my heart and hopefully it comes across appropriately on this keyboard:
This day is more than just about a barbecue and a day off. I get that. It is also a worn out cliché. Because how many times do we say that and then how long before it reverts to being just that? Memorial Day requires a lot more thought than just a couple of words reminding the rest of us how special today is. It requires us to reflect that in every conflict from the Revolution until now men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in, at first, building this country of freedom and later, maintaining it. It forces us to look back and understand the very tragic nature of war and not in some romanticized movie sort of way. Men and women, some young enough to have been my children, dying not even in the prime of their lives. Dying thousands of miles from home surrounded, thankfully and hopefully by their brothers and sisters in arms. Some died alone, in the single seat of an aircraft. Others perished aboard a sinking ship, fighting off both man and beast. They all died in battle, in both popular and unpopular conflicts, for reasons clear and blurred all in the name of the United States, the greatest force for freedom since 1776.
I have seen comments that younger generations either don’t appreciate or don’t understand the significance of Memorial Day. I am not sure I believe that. Whether it is my son’s class putting flags on the gravestones of veterans or a pregame ceremony at a Major League stadium, kids can begin to absorb the importance of this day. The question is in the case of MLB or a political figure or a celebrity or any other person or entity in the public sphere, do they really mean it? Cynics (and there are times I am one) believe that these public figures do it for good public relations with the message and remembrance of Memorial Day being secondary. I get that. However, the optimist in me believes that there enough folks who sincerely care about this important holiday and pay more than lip service to it. I would like to think that this day will be just as revered 100 years from now.
I had trouble trying to formulate my first thoughts for today. I have no problem wrapping them up. May I thank those servicemen and women when I see them in Heaven for everything they did on Earth.