Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial to Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day weekend: the start of summer and all that comes with it.  That includes warm weather (except in Chicago where we wait until June), grilling, al fresco dining (except in Chicago where we wear parkas until June), outdoor sports, and the onslaught of bugs. 

We will see many stories this weekend about those who serve or have served in our military. We will be asked to remember their sacrifices and to honor their memory. Some of us will fly flags and watch parades. We might even visit a cemetery. But mostly, we will spend time recreating, enjoying picnics, and being grateful for the day off work.  Many of us won't think about the soldiers, sailors, and airmen until we watch the evening news and when the news is over, we will go on about our business.

The ability to go on about our business is why we should all be honoring those who serve. They don't always fight and die for our freedoms. They go where our government sends them to fight and die for others. Whether or not we agree with the politics of these ventures, the military personnel that goes includes our family, friends, and neighbors. Every generation is touched by war and we all share in the consequences of that, no matter how justified the cause may be.

It's a shame that Congress decided to move this holiday in order to create a long weekend.  There was something special about May 30th. It stood apart until the National Holiday Act of 1971 moved it to the last Monday in May in order to create the three-day weekend. Somehow our delight in a long weekend supplanted our honoring of those who have served us so well. (Get more history about Memorial Day here.) 

So how about doing something special on Monday in addition to the ball games, the cookouts, and the family gatherings? How about saying thank you by flying that flag, donating to the USO, or observing a moment of silence?

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