Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer. You can always tell when it's going to start, the price of gas goes up, people start planning trips. Public service announcements, like "Click it or Ticket" and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk"start appearing on a regular basis. A time for picnic's, and family gathering's, the Indianapolis 500 and many other events. Many people look at it as only another 3 day weekend and an excuse to get out of work and have a fun time, but Memorial Day is far more important.
Memorial day started back in 1868 as Decoration Day, when people would go out a decorate the graves of brave soldiers who had fallen for their country and their beliefs. The idea started in the south, after the Civil war in 1865 when a group of liberated slaves got together, had a parade, patriotic singing and a picnic. and expanded later to include the whole nation. See the Wikipedia entry for Memorial Day for more historical reference. The USA Memorial also has a great site with poems essays and other information.
It is an inspiring belief that we should remember and praise those who have given their life to protect what they believe. Many were fighting for their country, but mostly for their friends and buddies. I think all who join the service's do so for the basic ideals of freedom and democracy. There is a cost for the freedom we all enjoy, and it is our men and women in uniform that make the sacrifice to pay that cost. I think it would be more inspiring to hope, strive, and fight for peace so that no others would have to pay this price.
I believe that it is our duty as citizens to pay respect, and celebrate the lives of those who have made that sacrifice. I was going to say "chosen to make that sacrifice", but thought better of it. I don't believe any of them Choose to give their life. They were all prepared, and knew the possibilities, but Choose; I don't think so.
We should also remember that other people in and out of uniform have paid this high price of freedom. Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters, and many Citizens who have stood up and taken a stand against crime or abuse. All of them were fighting for the same ideals and beliefs that our service men and women are fighting for, just in a different way.
Be sure to fly your flag at half staff until noon, and take part in the remembrance ceremonies in your area. Most important of all though is to strive for peace, or pray if you choose. Think of those who have given their life, hoping that no other would have to do the same!
One of my favorite statements about Memorial day is by President Reagan in 1983.
May 26, 1983
Memorial Day is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past, and renew our commitment to the future of America.
Today, as in the past, there are problems that must be solved and challenges that must be met. We can tackle them with our full strength and creativity only because we are free to work them out in our own way. We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.
I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.
This Memorial Day of 1983, we honor those brave Americans who died in the service of their country. I think an ancient scholar put it well when he wrote: ``Let us now praise famous men . . . All these were honored in their generation, and were the glory of their times. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.'' As a tribute to their sacrifice, let us renew our resolve to remain strong enough to deter aggression, wise enough to preserve and protect our freedom, and thoughtful enough to promote lasting peace throughout the world.
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