Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of social media traffic dedicated to the definition of Memorial Day. Most of them kind of go like this:
Armed Forces Day = Appreciation and honor to those currently serving in the military.
Memorial Day = Honoring those that sacrificed their lives in the defense of freedom.
Veterans Day = Appreciation and honor to those who have served in the military (past and present).
I’ve even seen some traffic go as far as to say, “Memorial Day is for those who have fallen. Please do not thank me for my service on Memorial Day.”
We’re going to file this one under the “help me with Military to Civilian Transition and Translation” tab. Consider this one a freebee.
Memorial Day is a sacred day to ALL Americans. I think it’s safe to say that those of us who have worn the cloth of our Nation take it pretty seriously. That doesn’t make those who have served better than those who haven’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It just means there’s a different perspective.
I can tell you only my perspective. It may resonate with you, or it may not. This goes for both Veteran AND Civilian.
Speaking to those who have not served first. Although Memorial day was created for the purposes listed above, it has also become the traditional start of summer. The first long weekend of warm weather. In some cases, our kids are out of school, and summer vacation has begun. We open our BBQs, crack a few adult beverages, and congregate with friends and neighbors, some of whom we haven’t seen outside since late autumn. As someone who spent the majority of their adult life serving in the military, I can honestly say I can’t think of ANYTHING more American!
Now, speaking to those who have had the privilege to serve our Nation. A great, yet fictional, Soldier once uttered a phrase that resonates with me, especially when it comes to our reactions to those who are uninitiated in our culture expressing simple gratitude.
Thank you Sgt. Hulka. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
No-one is attempting to insult us Veterans, or be insensitive to what our military specific holidays represent. The people who come up and thank you for serving our Nation are being genuine. It’s not always comfortable to walk up to a perfect stranger and want to show a little gratitude. For some people, it’s WAY out of their comfort zone. The last thing this person needs is a 15-minute lecture on what the different holidays signify.
Believe me when I say I honor Memorial Day, and all it stands for. I have family and friends, Shipmates and fellow service members from all branches who paid the ultimate price in defense of our Nation I remember each and every year at this time. The reality is, all Americans do. We owe them all a debt that can never be repaid. I can’t think of a single one of them who would be insulted by Americans taking time this weekend simply being….well…. American.
Celebrate Memorial Day! Honor those brave men and women who gave their lives for us to even have this day as a free society. Above all, simply be good Americans. I guarantee you my grill will be working at high capacity this weekend as well. What’s more? I don’t feel bad about it at all.
Happy Memorial Day.