Though many people in today’s society are torn apart by opinions, politics and core beliefs, we are all still connected through the intricacies of human nature. Memorial Day, a day on which we remember those who lost their lives protecting our country, is not a time to fight over the mundane or miniscule differences we may have between us, but is a time to put aside any differences and appreciate those who fought to protect our core values that we all hold dearly as a country.
In 1866, not long after the end of the tragic and bloody Civil War, four women in a small town in Mississippi gathered together to decorate the graves of their lost Confederate soldiers. What makes this story beautiful, however, is the fact that not only did they feel compelled to remember their own men, but also the Union Soldiers buried on the same grounds. This small gesture of empathy and humanity perfectly exemplifies what Memorial Day truly means. It is a day to put aside the current politics overwhelming the country, and to remember the brothers and sisters we have lost in battle.
Originally known as “Decorating Day,” in which members of various communities would follow the lead of those four women and decorate the graves of soldiers, this late May celebration became a federal holiday in 1971, and is now known as Memorial Day. Celebrated in cities across the country, Memorial Day boasts of military parades and veteran’s marches all across the continent. Because today’s society typically marks Memorial Day as the start of Summer, the meaning behind this sorrowful and grateful day can often be looked past and forgotten. A day that means more than barbecues and fireworks, it is important to remember that Memorial Day should be commemorated as a day to be thankful. Thankful for our friends, for our family, for the values and rights that represent this country. And most of all, thankful for those who fought for those rights, and lost their lives doing so. Because of the incredible selflessness that our American Soldiers show, we can truly say that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
On this day, which can be one so difficult for millions of families across the country, here are a few ways you can celebrate the lives of those lost:
• Volunteer to Place Flags on Grave Sites: On this day of remembrance, one way to help remember lost soldiers is by volunteering to mark their graves with the flag of their country. You can do so by contacting your local American Legion or VFW organization to volunteer your time.
• Send Your Love: A great way to remember those lost, is to reach out to the soldiers who are still on the front lines. By sending baked treats, blankets, or thank you cards through Soldier’s Angels (http://soldiersangels.org/) you can help remind our troops that what they do for the American public doesn’t go unnoticed.
• Reach Out: While we know Memorial Day as a time to outwardly thank those who fought for the country, it is also a day on which many families struggle with the loss of their loved ones. A kind way to spend this upcoming Memorial Day is to reach out to Military Families and let them know in words or in writing how much the actions of their loved ones mean to us. Whether you choose to do so through a letter, or by inviting the family to dinner, this small action of reaching out to those who have lost loved ones can make the world of a difference.