What Does Memorial Day Mean to You?

Clinton S. ThomasMemorial Day: the phrase means different things to different people. For some it means a three-day weekend. For others it means another road trip to visit family. For some it means a time to cook out, and others to head to a state or local parks for some outdoors time. For kids it usually means there is only a few days left before summer and they cannot understand why they have a three-day weekend just days before leaving school. There will be flags, streamers, and red, white, and blue sale papers around the nation at just about every store. But isn’t it time we took a moment out to remember the real reason? In truth, no matter what you’re doing this weekend, you can take a few minutes to remember what Memorial Day weekend is really about for America.

Memorial Day means that somewhere, on some certain day, at a certain time a fellow American gave up his or her life for you. It may have been on a bloody beach on the shores of France. That person might have died in the jungles of Vietnam, or on the line of North Korea. The person may have fallen from a British musket shot in the early days of our nation, or on a blood soaked patch of earth called Gettysburg. More recently that person may have died from a roadside bomb in Iraq or Afghanistan. They did not want to die. Nobody ever ran from trench to trench in the Great War thinking, “I’m so glad to die today.” No, these men and women dreamed of coming home.

The men and women who died for you dreamed of coming home and having life. They dreamed of walking on beaches rather than running for their lives. They dreamed of cutting away bushes on their new property rather than slicing through the jungles watching for snipers and traps. They dreamed of growing crops and shooting wild game rather than dodging musket fire aimed at them. They dreamed of walking across the fields of America, rather than dying fighting their own brothers. Many dreamed of going to college, coming home to children, seeing family again, and not dying in some torn Hummer in the desert. No, they did not want to die. In fact the only reason they were there was so that hopefully someday they could share all these things and more with you in a free country. There was fear, there was pain, there was crying, but in the end there was that one place, that one day and that one moment of time when that person, dreaming of doing all the things you will do this weekend, gave up his or her chance at that life so that you could have it.

So this weekend as you celebrate your time off, enjoy your cookouts, and enjoy your travels, take a moment to remember. Sit down for a few minutes, maybe scan the Internet and look over some old war pictures, or even glance through a history book. Take a moment and be thankful for those who gave up their chances so you could have them. Then, if by chance you meet or know a veteran, remember that he or she went and came back so you could be free. After all, this weekend, no matter what you think, isn’t really about you. It’s about them that gave you that trip, that off time and that cookout. It was really theirs, but since they cannot have it now, you can at least take a moment to be thankful for their gift.

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