Memorial Day is thought of as the start of summer. Cabins are opened for the season. Docks are put in, ready for fishing and swimming. Boats are prepped for boating, fishing, and skiing.
These certainly are wonderful activities, but Memorial Day’s true purpose in its establishment should not be forgotten.
I asked my students how they spent their Memorial Day weekends. The majority enjoyed the days relaxing, watching movies, and grilling. Yes, there were a few who attended a Memorial Day service or parade. One student shared that his family annually visits a cemetery where his deceased great-grandparents are buried.
Memorial Day has become not only a day to remember and honor our veterans, but also our other loved ones who have passed away. It is a day set aside to pay tribute and to remember.
Each Memorial Day, my family and I attend our local Memorial Day service. Two of our children are now old enough to participate in the honors of playing in the marching band. A solo trumpet plays taps. The large band rings out “God Bless America.” General Logan’s orders are recited. A serviceman speaks about duty and honor. Local deceased veterans’ roll call is made. The service begins and ends in prayer.
This is what Memorial Day was established for. Following the Civil War, General Logan ordered that the graves of fallen soldiers be decorated.
Some soldiers have given up their lives in the cause for freedom. Servicemen were, and are willing to do this for their fellow countrymen and women. All soldiers and veterans give up a piece of themselves in their service. They will be forever affected by their service time.
As my family and I, who included my brother and brother-in-law, visited the cemetery where loved ones are buried, we spoke of cherished memories. We paid respect to others who were buried in the same cemetery and shared stories of the individuals.
My brother-in-law recalled his old Legion baseball days and awarding the Most Valuable Player award one year to their biggest fan instead of a player. That man made an impact on him, and wouldn’t he be glad that this is how he is remembered, even many years after his death.
We found the gravestones of our great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This instigated stories of how the family farm came to be.
My brother-in-law’s father was a veteran who served in World War II. His father had one brother, thus one brother was allowed to stay home and help with the farm, and the other was off to war. His father was off to war.
This is what Memorial Day is about. Remembering and sharing these remembrances with the next generation to carry on the stories. This Memorial Day is gone, but it is never too late to share remembrances. Take the time to do so with loved ones. Pass on the history and the stories.