Today we pause to honor the brave men and women who have served our country both at home and abroad. In many cities there will be a parade with the American flag streaming in the sunlight above a vehicle carrying a proud veteran. A veteran who will look upon that flag and remember, often with great emotion, the friends that fought and died to protect it.
Somewhere today a family member will visit a gravesite and lay a wreath at the headstone of their beloved. They will shed tears once again with full understanding of the fact that freedom isn’t free.
Perhaps in some towns, there will not be a parade or a ceremony of any kind. Perhaps there will only be gatherings of families and friends for Barbeque, fellowship and fun. In that instance it becomes the responsibility of those individuals to remember, and honor, the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Whether it’s through a moment of silence or a quick story about the significance of the day- it is imperative that we teach our next greatest generation about the service and sacrifice of those who have come before them.
Memorial Day Perspective
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy
So how can we make Memorial Day really matter? In our family, we’ve committed to teaching our children the three Rs:
Remember: Take just a moment to recognize the men and women who have served this country. It takes very little effort to teach your children how important our service men and women are. Instead of a day at the lake or a trip to the pool, we can take our children to a ceremony, a museum, or a historical site and let the heroism of our nation’s patriots inspire their curiosity and cultivate their conviction. It begins with us.
Recognize: Simple words can have a significant impact. Say “Thank You” when you cross paths with a veteran, a service member, or their family. Even if they shake their head and tell you that they have just done their job, your words make a difference. It costs us nothing to shake their hand or hug them, look them in the eye, and tell them that we appreciate them- and it’s not something we should reserve for Memorial Day. Whether they stormed the beaches at Normandy or braved the jungles of Vietnam, patrolled the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan to protect the innocent from tyranny and terrorism, or served during one of the many campaigns in between or during time of peace- our veterans deserve to be recognized.
Repay: This weekend I was honored to attend a hiring event for our veterans aboard the USS Midway in San Diego, California. That evening, the public was invited aboard for a concert to raise funds for the American Freedom Foundation. While milling around with the general public, I overheard one person say to another, “Why are unemployed veterans more important than any other American? Why do they get a handout when everyone else is struggling too?” Sometimes you get the opportunity to educate the ignorant. A handout?!? I agree that people across America need help finding gainful employment- but to say that our veterans don’t deserve a bit more devotion seems awfully selfish to me. When someone raises their right hand to defend this country and they go to war willing to give their life in it’s defense, I think helping them to translate their experience and giving them an opportunity for a career that will enable them to provide for their families is the LEAST we can do. How can we repay them for their service? It’s simple. Get involved.
We each have skills and abilities. Some of us can hire veterans and military spouses. Some of us can help veterans heal the wounds of war (both seen and unseen). Some of us can coach and mentor a veteran who wants to enter our career field. Many of us can volunteer our time to help in other ways. The way in which we serve them is not important- but the fact that we do something- anything- is vitally so.
This Memorial Day, and every day of the year following it, I challenge you to do your part in honoring our veterans. We can all remember and recognize. We should strive to repay. If freedom isn’t free, isn’t time we paid the tab?
God Bless our Servicemen and Women and the Families who stand beside them.
Thank you to our veterans who have served so bravely when so few would.
May God comfort the families of those men and women who have laid the ultimate sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
And to my fallen Brother and Sisters who look down from above, You will NEVER be forgotten!
© Crystal Dyer 2012. All rights reserved.