Freedom is not Free – The truth about Memorial Day

Memorial Day, what are you “celebrating”?

People at BBQ

Today in the United States most of us “celebrate” Memorial Day.  For most, Memorial Day has become just another day of a 3-day weekend, BBQ’s and down time. But, is it a day of celebration or is it as it should be, at least in some meaningful way, a day to remember and as the name suggests, memorialize those who truly made the ultimate sacrifice for their country?

What is Memorial Day, do you REALLY know?

Arlington Cemetary Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May and honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Memorial Day should not to be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who perished while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.

Does Memorial Day still matter?

Harry S. Truman quote, Heroes

I contend that it does. It is very likely that had not the men and women who served and died on our behalf done so; none of us would have the privilege of a 3 day “celebration” this holiday. I don’t suggest that we all sit around , morose and quietly meditating all day this holiday, but ask that you consider “sacrificing” a few moments of your time to ponder what your life might have been without the ultimate sacrifice of others. Thanks to the fallen we have the opportunity to “celebrate” this day and to explore an adventurous life. Let’s be grateful for the freedoms that we are able to enjoy.

I leave you with this Memorial Day themed poem by Kelly Strong.

Freedom is not Free – by Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day,
it fluttered in the breeze,
a young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
and felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
of the mothers and the wives,
of fathers, sons and husbands
with interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea
of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

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