Memorial Day Weekend in the United States is celebrated as the unofficial beginning of summer. Many people across the country plan cookouts, trips to the beach or lake, and attend summer parties. But Memorial Day means so much more than a celebration of summer. Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember military men and women who bravely fought for our freedom and died for our country. Today I would like to pay tribute to our heroes and say thank you for their great service.
Army Veteran Wife
If you didn’t already know, I am an Army veteran wife. My husband served active duty for 8.5 years in the United States Army. He medically separated from the Army in March 2015 because of an injury he incurred during a deployment. But I am not just an Army veteran wife. I come from a military family and I grew up in an Army town.
I am also the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran (retired 23 years U.S. Army) and an Army nurse veteran. Both of my parents served active duty in the United States Army. My father served in the Vietnam War as a combat medic and paratrooper.
Later, he served as an Army nurse. My mother also served in the Army as a nurse. My sister and brother-in-law served in the Air Force. Coming from a military family, I know what it means to honor our armed forces and show great respect for their time in service.
I remember attending a Veteran’s Day ceremony with my husband, children, and father. My older son Elijah had won an essay writing contest for his essay on honoring my father for his time in service. When we arrived at the event, one of the event coordinators came over to us to welcome us to the ceremony. When she approached my father she gave him a big hug and thanked him for his service. Then she looked at him and said, “Welcome home.” My father humbly smiled and said, “thank you.”
The event coordinator thanked my father for his military service. Then she looked at him and said, “Welcome home.” My father humbly smiled and said, “thank you.”
It made me a little teary-eyed because I could see how much the event coordinator’s greeting meant to my father. It was one of those moments where I felt very proud to be my father’s daughter. I looked around the room and saw many war veterans were in attendance at the Veteran’s Day ceremony. They were veterans who had served during wartime and were being honored by their grandchildren. It was such a moving experience and it made me feel proud to have come from an Army family and be married to an Army Solider.
Why We Should Celebrate Memorial Day
To honor the fallen – many men and women fought bravely for our country and died during their time in service. We should take the time to honor them and pay our respects to their great sacrifice.
To honor our country – When we honor the fallen on Memorial Day we are also honoring our country. If it wasn’t for countless numbers of military service men and women who serve our country, we would not have the freedoms we enjoy and value today.
To honor people who have lost their loved ones – Many people have lost a loved one who served in the armed forces. Therefore, Memorial Day is a very special time for them to remember their loved one. When my husband was in the Army, there were times we would hear of Soldiers who had died in combat. It always saddened me because I knew they were leaving behind a family and quite possibly a spouse and children.
I know when you lose a loved one you couldn’t possibly just remember them one day out of the year, but Memorial Day is a special time to support people who have lost their loved ones. It is a time for us to come together as a country and show our love and respect for the fallen and their families.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed the last Monday of May. According to HISTORY.com, Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day” and it was first observed a few years after the Civil War. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.
By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. – “Memorial Day”, HISTORY.com
PBS gives a May 30, 1868 date of when what is now called Memorial Day was first observed. During this time, it was observed to “commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers” (“The History of Memorial Day”, PBS.org)
How Americans Celebrate Memorial Day to Honor the Fallen
- Attend or participate in Memorial Day parades.
- Volunteer to work with veterans.
- Place small-sized flags in rows in a field, yard, or at a place of business.
- Decorate their homes with American flags, wreaths, and other American-themed decorations.
- Attend a church service in honor of Memorial Day.
- Plan a cookout to spend time with family and friends.
- Visit military cemeteries to place flags on service men and women’s gravesites.
This Memorial Day Weekend, as you are celebrating the beginning of the summer season, take some time to honor the brave men and women who died fighting for our country. Whether you attend a special Memorial Day service or you take a personal time of reflection, we can all do something in our own way to pay tribute to the fallen.