Sunday, May 27, 2012


Memorial Day.  An excuse to shop? A day off  from work or school?  Watching a band and eating yummy food at a downtown festival?  It's all of the above, but the main reason for this May holiday, signaling that summer will be here soon, is remembering.   Specifically, remembering our nation's fallen military men and women. 

Originally called Decoration Day, it was established before the end of the Civil War to honor the men and women who died in service of our nation.  Many small towns lay claim to having  been the first to celebrate a specific day, but over time it was officially proclaimed a holiday on May 4, 1868. It was marked by decorating graves, holding parades and attending picnics big and small.

In 1915  Moina Michael  wore a red poppy to honor those who died in war, and the idea took hold. Before too long the tradition of buying and wearing poppies spread, even to other countries.  The proceeds in some cases went to widows and children orphaned by war.

In ensuing years the original meaning has been lost and we now combine our remembering to include anyone close to us who has passed away.  We still decorate graves and hold special parties with red, white and blue flags flying, however the parades and community-wide celebrations are fewer, and in some places, non-existent.

In an attempt to return to its original intent, a "National Moment of Remembrance" was introduced in December, 2000 which asked that we all pause at 3:00 p.m. wherever we happen to be to remember those in the military who died to keep us safe.     Carrying it further, some are even behind a movement to return to the original day of observance, perhaps a specific day such as May 30, no matter what day it falls upon.  Their argument is that a three day weekend can be seen as a distraction with its multitude of activities,  rather than as a way of focusing on one important thing  - remembering those lost to us who were  trying to keep us from harm's way.

This year, for so many of our military's young men and women who made the "supreme sacrifice", we need to do more than take a minute at 3:00 p.m. to remember them.   As a nation we need to make sure that their deaths were not in vain, and live our lives in a way that brings honor to that sacrifice.  In the meantime, we can also show we care by our actions. We can say "thank you" or  give small gifts to everyone we see in uniform.  We can volunteer in military hospitals.  We can invite them to our homes for a good home-cooked meal.  We can put them in touch with possible employment opportunities.  In other words, we can give back to the living and injured an attitude of love and appreciation, while also remembering those no longer with us.

 So at 3:00 tomorrow, take a few minutes to reflect on those who have died so that we can be safe, and what that means for you.  Then take a few more minutes to think about those in the military, away from their homes and loved ones, and think how you can show them you care.  Surely it's worth a few minutes time in the lives of us all!

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