Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day: More Than Just Hot Dogs and Burgers

Photo: dealbase.com

Hello Optimists,

Hope you're breaking out the patio furniture and firing up that grill because Memorial Day is upon us, and with that, we mark the (un)official start to summer. Thank goodness.  But with all of the cookouts and parties going on this weekend, it kind of takes away from what this holiday was originally intended for. And I will admit that I usually didn't celebrate the "memorial" in Memorial Day growing up as much as I would have liked to. Sure, we made American flag banners and remembered to "thank our troops" in elementary school, and I attended the big parade every year, but I was really only concentrated on seeing the cool cars and waiting for the people on the floats to throw me some candy. I understood that this was the day we Americans set aside to remember those who had given their life fighting for our country, but I don't think it really was sinking in.

Keeping with this holiday tradition, I went up to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers near the graves of my relatives. As we drove into the entrance, a sea of American flags dominated the landscape. Nearly every grave marker had a flag honoring the veteran buried there. Waves of red, white, and blue billowed in the wind and for probably the first time, it hit me. The true meaning of Memorial Day finally sunk in, and I was taken aback by the impact that those flags had made on me. It's amazing to think about how many of our citizens have served in the military forces and how many of those gave up their life while doing it. This holiday was started just at the end of the Civil War, and if you think about it, there have been many wars since then in which many Americans fought to keep our country safe.  I mean, they are the reason we're able to have the freedom to do what we want, so we should be so grateful for their courage, strength, and patriotism. As I was reading more about Memorial Day, I came across a great quote that reminds us of the appreciation we should show, not only today, but all throughout the year.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived. -General George S. Patton
We really should be thankful that these men (and women, of course!) lived, because without them, it's hard to even imagine what our lives would be like. Seeing the sea of American flags yesterday was enough to remind me that we need to appreciate the sacrifices others have made for us and honor them by showing that they're never forgotten.

 So today, as you're sitting poolside with your pina colada, or watching the big floats in the parade drive by, be sure to take some time to truly celebrate Memorial Day by thanking those who have so bravely served our country and remembering those who have lost their lives while doing so.

If you want to know some more facts about Memorial Day, check out this little article, "Remembering Memorial Day". 

Keep Smiling,

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