On Monday, May 25 Americans will celebrate Memorial Day. How will you celebrate? For many this day is a Federal Holiday and a comfortable day home from work. For others this day is an unpleasant reminder of loved ones lost. But no matter what your connection is to military service, Memorial Day, if properly understood and reflected upon, can propel us into fulfilling summers as individuals and communities. The following are reflections for getting the most out of your Memorial Day this year.
Know the history of Memorial Day. Most people understand that Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who have died while in military service. But to fully grasp the significance of this day we must understand its origins. Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was called in 1868, was founded to commemorate the Civil War dead. Before 1868, America had been involved in other wars. Why take special lengths to decorate soldier’s graves now? Memorial Day’s creation is a cutting reminder that the most devastating of battles are those we inflict on ourselves. This internal conflict still happens today. A simple example is when our elected officials refuse to find common ground. Make an effort this Memorial Day to ask yourself where is the self-inflicted, internal, or unnecessary conflict in your life? Be honest.
Learn the names of Memorial Day. It is said that only in learning the name of someone who is poor does a person first start to care for “the poor”. When you know name of man living on the street, he is no longer “the poor” or a homeless man. Instead, he is a real person with a name. I believe the same is true when learning the names of those men and women for which Memorial Day was created. Make efforts to learn the names of the people in your community who have died while in military service and especially their family members who survived them. I read somewhere that no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. If this is true, and it is, then even if we did not know them, these soldiers are our friends. Let us take time to treat the lost soldiers’ loved ones like friends.
Allow sadness and celebration to complete Memorial Day.
How will you celebrate?