There was nothing sacred about that order of events. It has been a long time since that day, and we all know that things inevitably change over time. Very little is the same today as it was in 1868, other than human nature. Yet just reading about that first observance of the holiday provides a stark contrast with what happens on Memorial Day weekend today. For most Americans Memorial Day is mostly a nice holiday that comes near the end of the school year and marks the beginning of what we usually think of as the summer season. As such it generally ends up being an extra day off, a time for barbecues, picnics, going to the beach, playing and relaxing. There is nothing wrong with that, except that all too often the real significance of the holiday gets totally forgotten.
It is fine to have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday, but as we do so we must never forget those who have served. They have sacrificed for us, and many of them have paid a dear price for their loyalty and faithfulness. They more than deserve any honor and thanks that we can render them. I read the story of a young woman named Samantha Brown who went to a Dunkin Donuts shop. On the back of her car she has a sticker that reads “Half my heart is in Afghanistan.” When she got back out to her car she found an envelope under her windshield wipers. Inside were two $20 bills and a note that said, “Take your hero out to dinner when he gets home. Thank you both for serving.” Good for whoever made the effort to do that.
Look for the opportunity to say thank you to someone who has served or is serving in whatever way is appropriate for you. And let’s not forget that in 2000 Congress passed the Resolution of National Remembrance calling on all Americans to pause on Memorial Day at 3 PM local time for one minute of silence remembrance of those who have served and died. I hope we all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, but I also hope we all remember to Remember!