Duty. Honor. Sacrifice.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
For some, Memorial Day is a three-day weekend filled with barbecues, cookouts, and picnics that kick off the summer season. It is a time spent with friends and family, gathering poolside for a fun time in the sun. But, for others, it is much more than that. It is a day of remembrance and reflection. It is a day of grieving for those who did not make it home – for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Decoration Day, more commonly known as Memorial Day, originated after the Civil War, which claimed more lives than any conflict in the history of the U.S. The aftermath required the country to establish national cemeteries throughout the nation, where countless soldiers were laid to rest. Americans around the nation gathered at national cemeteries to lay flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes. In 1971, it was officially declared a federal holiday. Still to this day, people throughout the country visit national cemeteries and memorials to pay tribute and to honor those we have lost.
"This nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is home of the brave," - Elmer Davis.
A Call to Serve
The decision to put others before oneself does not come lightly. Nor should it. Leaving your home, your family, everything you know behind to join our nation's Armed Forces takes strength—courage. Days, months, years go by. Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations missed. Every day our service members sacrifice their lives so that we may live ours without fear or hesitation. Our nation is only as strong as those willing to fight for it. And one thing is for sure—our country is damn strong.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
The men and women of our nation's Armed Forces leave loved ones behind, not knowing if they will make it back home. Yet, without trepidation, they depart for what could be their last time—giving their lives in service to our country. Family members of the fallen gather on Memorial Day to grieve and mourn — reflecting on the memories they hold dear. American flags line the streets throughout our towns and cities, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Observing Memorial Day
This Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the heroes who fought to protect the liberties and freedoms we cherish as Americans. Hundreds gather at Arlington Cemetery, where the President of the United States lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Memorials and national cemeteries are visited, laying flowers and placing American flags on the gravesite of service members. Attend parades or Memorial Day events organized in your area to show your support for our soldiers, sailors and airmen. There is no right or wrong way to observe. But no matter what we do, we should take a moment to remember the sacrifices made and to remember that our freedom is not free.