Happy Memorial Day!
Memorial Day has always signified the end of the school year, the beginning of the summer vacations, the opening of swimming pools, and in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500 race. Most have a three day Memorial Day weekend to celebrate. Many plan family cookouts. Some plan to spend the day opening their swimming pools, taking a quick getaway or working in their yards.
“Ask not what your country can do for YOU, ask what you can do for your COUNTRY.” John F. Kennedy
Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? Most do not know. It was originally called Decoration Day, a day to place flowers or flags on the graves of our war dead, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Many celebrate without a thought of the meaning or real purpose of this federal holiday.
Growing up, I always loved the month of May. We would celebrate the entire month! Mother’s Day, my brothers’ birthday and dads’ birthday were celebrations we enjoyed before getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend. Weekends in May were spent planting flowers, working in the garden and listening to the qualifications for the race. We would decorate the graves of my maternal grandparents with red, white and blue flowers. We stayed busy Memorial Day weekend. We always spent nearly all day Saturday at the Indianapolis 500 parade, and then on Sunday, we would come home from church, have lunch, and we would work outside in the backyard while we listened to the race on the radio. Memorial Day was usually spent celebrating with my aunts, uncles, and cousins at a cookout.
I know that Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have given their lives for our country, but I find it an excellent opportunity to thank those who have served in the military and who have given me the opportunity to live in a free country. I grew up in a military home. My dad proudly served 22 years before retiring, and then he spent another 10 in the reserves and re-retired at 32 years. My husband spent 14 years in the military and our youngest son just completed his first four years as an airborne soldier in the Army. I know how blessed I am that no one in my family has made the ultimate sacrifice. I am on an “Army Moms” Facebook group, and my heart breaks every time a mom announces that her child has died and is coming home for a final time.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Thomas Campbell
I think that few Americans know what it is to make the “ultimate sacrifice.” I’ve heard that term over and over during my life, but more often in the last few years. The Bible says in John 15:17, “Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.” Over the years, there have been thousands of men and women who have given their lives fighting for our country, a country they loved.
My challenge to you this week is the following:
Simply take a moment and pause for a few moments. While the world celebrates with family and friends today, eating burgers, brats, hotdogs and all of the traditional picnic foods, take a moment to think about the soldiers in all corners of the world who are away from their families and friends working to make America a safe place for all of us. Give thanks for those who have died fighting for our freedoms, so that we can laugh and enjoy our families during this holiday season.
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” Arthur Ash
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day and a truly blessed week!