This past weekend, many of us enjoyed family vacations, barbecues and bonfires with friends. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer and offers a glimpse into the joy of the next three sun-soaked months. While this is all well and good, it draws away from the real meaning of Memorial Day: remembering those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and protection.
Memorial Day has become a cliché holiday. Retailers try to pawn off merchandise in cheesy Memorial Day sales, grocery stores display 12-packs of beer in the shape of the American flag and burger sales skyrocket. But none of these things draw our attention to the true purpose of Memorial Day.
According to the United States Department of Defense, since 1775 more than 3 million Americans have given their lives for our country. In the Iraq War alone, approximately 30,000 brave men and women have died in combat.
That means that far more than 30,000 families did not get to celebrate this past weekend with their loved ones. The purpose of the holiday is to reflect on those soldiers and their families who have paid the ultimate price and allowed us to live in safety and peace. Yet we spend the day taking advantage of amazing deals on mattresses and barbecuing brats with friends.
This is not to say we should not enjoy the long weekend and each other’s company. However, we should also reflect on the reason we have the day off in the first place. Don’t buy into the sensationalized and corny holiday that Memorial Day has become; remember this day was built on blood and tears.