Hundreds gathered on the assembly grounds during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida, to honor those who served in the U.S. armed forces on May 26, 2014.
AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic
Memorial Day. In America, it marks the first weekend of summer, and is frequently accompanied by such patriotic traditions as cookouts, trips to the beach, and sales on linens and housewares.
Lately, it’s also accompanied by social media scolding about remembering why there’s a Memorial Day. Numerous posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like show pictures of Arlington National Cemetery or something similar, along with pithy sayings like, “In case you thought it was national barbecue day.”
As a whole, many veterans want the people to take Memorial Day more seriously. Many, if not most, veterans know friends and fellow service members who paid the ultimate price. It’s natural that many get a little annoyed when most of the civilian population seems to just take the holiday as a chance to go to the beach.
It’s something of an unfair criticism when you think about it. We can’t look inside anyone else’s head. Perhaps that person took a moment to reflect on military sacrifice before going out. Who knows? In any case, do we expect people to spend Memorial Day quietly sobbing to themselves?
The best way to think of Memorial Day is not as a national military funeral, but as a national wake. We’ve already shed our tears for fallen comrades. There’s nothing wrong with shedding a few more, especially for the recently departed, but a better way to cherish their memories is to spend a moment reflecting on all the good things their sacrifices enabled the rest of us to enjoy.
Going out and enjoying your freedoms as an American on Memorial Day is the right thing to do. Just take the time to honor the sacrifices that made it possible. Whether you do this by raising bottles of brew with your guests this weekend in a toast to the fallen, or by taking a moment during your family’s prayer of “grace” before dinner, it doesn’t matter. If one new person at your gathering takes that sentiment onboard, it’s a far greater tribute to the fallen than a thousand guilt-inducing Facebook posts.
Mourning has its place. I know a lot of comrades who I wish were still here with us. When I think about the fact that they’re gone, and even more, when I think about their families left behind, sometimes I can’t help but tear up a bit. More important than that though, is thinking about what their sacrifices have bought for us, being thankful for that, and celebrating it.
We can hold onto some sadness for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. But, just as importantly, we need to celebrate the fact that as Americans we have something worthy of that level of sacrifice, and that we’ve had thousands of service members who’ve been willing to make it. Don’t be ashamed to have a good time this Memorial Day — that’s part of the gift that’s been bestowed to you. To reject the gift is to belittle the sacrifice that was made. Just take the time to say “thanks” aloud with your family and friends. That’s a pretty good memorial right there, and hopefully, the fallen can hear it.
An E-2D Hawkeye assigned to the Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 lands on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Will Hardy)
Nobody can be told what The Matrix is; you have to see it for yourself.
More than two decades after The Matrix showed the world what the future of the sci-fi action flick could look like, Warner Bros. Pictures plans on producing a fourth installment of the groundbreaking epic saga, Variety first reported on Tuesday.
Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 1 conduct category III qualifications on the M2A1 heavy machine gun at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. CRS-1 is qualifying for future mobilization requirements. (U.S. Navy/Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Kenji Shiroma)
The Navy is considering giving Ma Deuce a quiet new update.
A competitor performs push-ups during the physical fitness event at the Minnesota Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition on April 4, 2019, at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. (Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. Sebastian Nemec)
Despite what you may have heard, the Army has not declared war on mustaches.
The Army W.T.F! Moments Facebook page on Monday posted a memo written by a 3rd Infantry Division company commander telling his soldiers that only the fittest among them will be allowed to sprout facial hair under their warrior nostrils.
"During my tenure at Battle Company, I have noticed a direct correlation between mustaches and a lack of physical fitness," the memo says. "In an effort to increase the physical fitness of Battle Company, mustaches will not be authorized for any soldier earning less than a 300 on the APFT [Army Physical Fitness Test]."