Memorial Day – It’s not just another mattress close-out sale

Memorial Day – It’s not just another mattress close-out sale

May 27, 2011 ~ It’s Friday and the kickoff for Memorial Day Weekend 2011 is in full force.  While I was drinking my coffee and clearing the fog from my brain early this morning, I turned on the television and checked in on the news.  Within the first twenty minutes I heard all about how I could win a new grill that would do such amazing things for my burgers and steaks that it might even make my hamburger patties for me.  This “news” story was quickly followed by a commercial for a patriotic furniture sale going on all weekend! The television continued to give me the lowdown on travel destinations for my “holiday” weekend and the many different ways millions of Americans will be “celebrating”.

I had not yet been awake a full half hour and yet I was already aggravated because, though I had been inundated with information specifically relating to Memorial Day, I had not heard a single reference to anything that was actually connected to the concept that people have given their lives for this country and I thought that was why we “celebrate” Memorial Day.

For many of us, “celebration” is the last word we would ever use to describe how we spend our Memorial Day.  Why is it that for 99% of Americans, Memorial Day is synonymous with the unofficial start of summer?  Probably because only one percent of our population actually serve in our military. Most people are celebrating the long weekend with family outings, camping trips, beach vacations, and more.  Every retailer out there is having a Memorial Day sale with the hope that we will come buy something at their mattress close out sale rather than go down the street and purchase a new car during the “Swap Your Ride” promotion.  For some, the biggest decision made this weekend might be deciding between attending the barbecue down the street and going to the pool now that it’s open.

It is definitely appropriate to “celebrate” our freedom. After all, those who died were fighting to give us that right and privilege, but I thought that was what July 4th was all about.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, began as a day of remembrance for those who have died while serving our nation.  It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three-day weekend for federal holidays which now finds almost every state “celebrating” Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.

Is that where it all went wrong?  Was it when Congress decided to give everyone a three day “holiday”?  Is that why business owners can throw a few stars and stripes in their ads and call themselves patriotic?

Being involved in a small non-profit organization that supports our military, their families, and our veterans, we don’t just stop one day a year to throw a flag out in the yard and say thanks. Our volunteers are busy everyday doing something to let our troops know we care about them.

I haven’t always been a great support for our troops, in fact, I’m embarrassed to say there was a time when I didn’t give our military much thought at all.  There have been plenty of Memorial Days where you could have found me hitting the beach or buying a sale-priced mattress……and I am not proud of that fact.

One day it all became personal and I was no longer just a blessed individual, who, by the grace of God was born in this country instead of another.  My perspective changed when I found myself to be the mother of an 18 year old boy who was deploying for war.  As I caught my last glimpse of him before he deployed, I suddenly realized that I didn’t care one bit about the insignificant bad habits for which I had spent 18 years nagging at him to stop.  Nothing mattered except the fact that I needed him to come safely back home to me. I knew in that moment that every person who had watched a loved one go to war, and all who had gone to fight, had made huge sacrifices for our nation and for ordinary people like me.

It’s been seven years and I’ve learned a lot from my son’s choice to serve.  I’ve gotten a glimpse of what it really means to love your country.  I’ve had a chance to really consider the sacrifices that are made so that we can live in freedom.  I’ve come to realize that the guys doing the fighting are just some of the many who make a sacrifice. Each one leaves behind a family which must bravely go on during deployments. These family members are making a huge sacrifice as well.

Countless people have given their lives for our nation. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Many live with combat injuries that have redefined their lives. There are thousands who live in a war zone right here in their own backyards because their combat memories haunt them day in and day out. Our veterans struggle with suicide, homelessness, post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Thousands of families are desperately trying to put their lives back in order because the war has taken its toll.

I’m sorry, but I simply can’t define Memorial Day with a word such as “celebration”.  Memorial Day is about honoring and remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation. It’s about doing so in a solemn way which demonstrates our gratitude and appreciation to the family members left behind. They  need to know that the price they paid was somehow worth it.

When you are dead and gone, do you want to be honored and remembered with a mattress close out sale? Enjoy your weekend, but take a few moments out of your day this coming Monday and observe the real reason for Memorial Day.

Click here to watch Memorial Day Remembrance.

Originally published on Military Missions Inc.


Speak Your Mind