On this Memorial Day weekend…*

In a way it’s a pity that Memorial Day makes such a convenient start to summer, because it makes it seem like a happy holiday day. Of course it does–the first long weekend of the summer is a time to go and do a whole bunch of fun summery things, and there’s no reason at all why you shouldn’t.

But won’t you please pause for a moment to remember what Memorial Day IS?

(Sidenote: Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day, btw. THAT’S that day for thanking all those who serve in our country’s defense. Although it’s never a wrong day to thank them!)

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and the idea was that we should all remember those who died fighting for our country by going to cemeteries and decorating their graves with flags and flowers and like that.

(Oh, come on–it’s not any creepier than, you know, HAVING cemeteries, if you think about it. Or having people die to protect you, for that matter.)

So even if you skip the graveyard on your way to that backyard barbecue or parade or big sale or whatever fun thing you have planned, why not take a moment to thank those who stood and fell in our defense?

 

Video by United States Navy Band
 

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall-at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., May 30, 1884

 

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*You think maybe this sounds familiar to you? Yep, pretty much the same as last year. It bears repeating.