by Pamela Glowski
Memorial Day…what comes to mind when you think of this day? Is it Barbeques? An extra day off from work? What do you FEEL when you think of Memorial Day? Is it just another day? Or do you get an overwhelming feeling of gratitude?
For me, Memorial Day has been a long standing tradition. Mostly because of the town I grew up in and the fact that I had 5 uncles who served in the Army. Fortunately, all of them came back home to us. I never lost a family member to any war, but have always had, through our family experience, a realized appreciation for how much our servicemen and women risk while they serve.
From 1971 through the mid 80’s, while I lived in my home town, we attended the city planned activities each year. Everyone came together for a parade and to attend services at the cemeteries. It was WHY we were off from school and work that day…and we realized the importance of our participation. It wasn’t a day off for the sake of having a day off. Everyone took the time out with conscious reverence for the sole purpose of honoring those who had given their life in service to their country.
It seems to me, more and more these days, the magnitude of the day means less and less. That totally baffles me. When my town had events, it was more about what had happened in our countries history; the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam. We were young and none of our friends had yet to go to war. We heard the stories of Vietnam and Korea from our fathers and uncles, but we hadn’t lived in a declared time of war. I might be able to understand why people from my generation and younger would participate less in Memorial Day if our country had never gone to war again. Some of that is based on simple human nature. Most people can not completely relate to situations they themselves have never experienced.
At the onset of the Persian Gulf War (August2, 1990 – February 28, 1991) I remember the fear I felt, the speculation about what would happen to our country and pondering if there would be a draft again. Then the news of the first deaths of our servicemen started hitting the television news. I remember thinking that NOW, I could relate to generations past. The following Memorial Days meant even more from that day forward. It wasn’t just stories that were shared from our older family members anymore. We were now living it.
For a while, there was a renewed sense of patriotism that I had never seen in my generation. A new sense of service to our country was felt, a new surge of enlistments, a new sense of honor for those who stepped up to serve. But then, sadly, the “war time” became common place. People returned to the day to day activities they had created in their lives.
With our country being at war since the Persian Gulf War, let alone the conflicts in Somalia, Grenada and Beirut, and then the war in Iraq, it is ironic to me that we have “forgotten”. We have taken for granted what goes on day after day on foreign soil because we don’t see it. Our men and women are still there. They are putting their lives on the line TODAY.
With that in mind, this year let’s come together all those who have died in all our history’s wars. For one day, let’s forget all the differences like political views, which we are free to express because of those who have served and died. Let’s take the time that we have off at the barbeque to really stop and reflect on ALL those who have given their lives for our freedom. Let’s get out to those parades this Monday, attend the cemetery services in your community and take time to call those veterans that you know, who came back home to you, to say “Thank You”.
At the very least, as a special sign of remembrance, at 3pm your local time, take a moment to stop all that you are doing and have a moment of silence for all of our fallen. After ALL, they gave ALL…including their lives.
If you would like to know more about the history of Memorial Day visit www.usmemorialday.org