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What is Memorial Day?

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katrina

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What is Memorial Day?

by

LT Bobby Ross

My years whirl past me. Swirling. Dry, broken grass hovering in a
spring breeze. Can I remember my experiences in war? Hardly.
Fighting for my country, my youth invested, seems such a long time ago,
and so unimportant. The calendar sometimes marks Memorial Day on the
29th of May. Have I lost something? The traditional Memorial Day,
also known as Decoration Day, is on the 30th of May. This observed
Memorial Day on May 29th coincidentally allows for a national three day
holiday. Such is commercialism's capitalistic American display. But
why do I feel so stricken, like I have abandoned old friends from long
ago? Their ghosts consort with my floating years, and their spirits
coast around my presence.

Another three day holiday! Memorial Day! Maybe me and the kids can go
camping? Or, to the beach? Memorial Day is fun! This is the
inconsiderate, thoughtless approach to this meaningful, and consecrated
moment representing one three hundred and sixty-fifth of our year. What
is the meaning of Memorial Day? Is it merely a three day escape from
our worldly duties? Or, is it the official beginning of summer? Is
selling more hot dogs at the ballpark the overriding clarification?

Many souls, sacrificed in war, in duty to America, are wandering. They
drift in a heavenly place, minus their future here upon earth.
Tomorrows were forfeited. Given up so our nation would invigorate
free souls, aspire them to freedom, and justly allow their lives lived
as they prefer. Raising offspring above restrictions, as they desire.
Those lost lives giving we, the living, what we want freely. Those are
the souls we respect on Memorial Day. This means it is a sacred day.

Without retrospect, sacrifice is mute. Old Glory does not wave by
accident. It flutters in the spring air revealing honor. The color
red represents the blood bloom from those who fell, those who clawed,
those who cried in horrible pain. Those who died fast. And, those who
died ever so slowly. They did their duty. When I see Old Glory waving
on a sunny, end of May day, the pigment red gushes from millions of
souls, floating, not with us, anymore. They are amongst our heroes,
cajoling with angels with their champions, conquerors and commanders.
Friends and loved ones gather, over the grave, witness to those who
gave more than anyone should be required to relinquish. They did not
want to yield. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and
when the moment harshly struck them their fatal blow, they cried for
their mother, or their friend. Then there were those, many of those,
who knew exactly what they were giving. They moved forward knowingly.
They lost their lives so their mission would be accomplished.

Fools! Some intellects can say that. One would have to be an imbecile
to give up life, no matter what the cause. For a flag? Futile! For a
country! More pointless! For freedom! What freedom is there in
mortality? Yes, fools they may have been, but their numbers add up in
an awesome display of American loss! Veterans' Cemeteries, white
badges sailing row after row after row upon green grass, almost never
ending, creeping onto the horizon. Constant reminders of the
devastation of our human treasure. Mothers' tears, enough to fill an
ocean to overflow. Sweethearts, broken hearted, reading telegrams.
Sons and daughters, many unborn, wakening at birth to a devastated
family suffering from a victim of war there no more. And what does all
this macabre math equal? Memorial Day is the correct answer.

Few Americans know a person who died in war. Their family trees have
lost some leaves, falling as they fought in one of America's wars, or
discarded in the peacetime military. We are a busy people. We have
business to capture. Our kids are in school. We have chores.
Mundane, or surrealistic. We are a spirited society, seeking
applications to improve ourselves and our communities. We are a
helpful populace, always there when the going gets tough to help those
who have suffered the tragedies of nature, whether a hurricane or a
famine. Americans are always the first on the scene worldwide bearing
their gifts of human spirit and abundance. This is why it is so
puzzling that the meaning of Memorial Day seems to lack substance to
many of our own people. Even with the day itself. Put back to
accommodate a holiday schedule fixed by some organism no one knows, yet
powerful enough to do so, the day itself lacks consequence to too many.
Many who never knew a person who died in service to America are wrought
with the invisible pain of not feeling for those who do.

Americans take things for granted. We have so much. So very much.
Endless choices. These options are not available worldwide. Our
shelves are full. Unlike many in other nations of the world. So many
are empty or offer very limited selections. Those American fighting
men and women killed in battle whose souls are floating actually made
available these wondrous choices we have every day of our American
lives. Yet, most of our youngsters have no idea whatsoever what this
means. They don't learn this in school. We must teach them. For
without knowledge, they may end up thinking, or believing, all these
marvelous selections came without circumstance. Minus anything.
Equaling no meaning.

Our nation needs to halt and perceive the flags and flowers on our
Veterans graves on this consecrated holiday. We need to lift a common
voice of adoration to those floating spirits of our onetime American
Warriors, and extol them with a salutation. We have not come that far
with our technological miracles of this millennium to become crass. We
still need respect. Our backs can not turn from formality. Our eyes
can not look away from custom. Our voices must not resonate in silence
against honor and glory. To do so will leave us hollow, only to fill us
with that which is desolate and lacking potential. This is not the true
meaning of Memorial Day. The heartfelt significance requires reminding.
Story telling. Wisdom being passed on from our Veterans to our younger
generations. An interpretation certified by those who remember the
horrors of war. Without this core, our society can not remain genuine.
It becomes contemptible. It rots from within. These floating souls of
our lost American Warriors are a powerful force, for they live within
our hearts. They constantly seek justification for their
contributions, and they are real within us. Such is what our American
substance stands for, where character is developed, individually is
guaranteed, and a community, a nation, survives.

America enters the 21th Century as the most powerful entity humankind
has ever experienced. America permeates this next century with vast
responsibilities. Our children must bear this promise. We can not
turn our backs on these bygone descendants, nor can we do so upon
ourselves. Memorial Day offers us the opportunity to express a moment
of solitude where each of us can personify in our own way what we feel.
I only speak for my myself, as one who has bared his soul to the dread
of war. So my father did, and his father's father before him, and their
souls float amongst the multitudes. My mother and her mother held their
Veterans after they returned from war, tears streaming down their cheeks
in gratitude for their safe return. And there were those in my ancestry
who did not return from war. And their mothers' tears soaked the
pillows on beds for generations to sleep upon. Their souls are the
dreams that drift amongst the floating, gathering at the end of May in
the breeze of summer's coming, in the cool glass of lemonade at the
child's street side stand, in the cheers at the ball game from the
crowd rooting their team to victory and enjoying the best hot dogs in
the world. Let us all stop for a moment, whether it is on the
traditional day, or the observed Memorial Day, or even at the end of
May, and reach for those floating souls. Let us reveal to them how
much we cherish their sacrifice for our free people. Let these
memories harvest our recognition of the meaning of Memorial Day in a
very simple word. And let that word, simply stated be: Thanks.




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Permission to reproduce granted freely and unconditionally
 

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