On its original date and on the revised Monday date, three things have been and remain commonplace:
Many Americans will pause to remember and be grateful to all the men and women who died in defense of the nation’s freedom.
Events such as the service at Mike Miller Park in Draffenville will formalize the remembrance.
And surviving veterans will deflect any and all credit and designation of “hero” to those they consider the real heroes – those who did not survive.
While we laud the surviving veterans, we endorse and praise their humility. Memorial Day, after all, is about ultimate sacrifice, not just service.
Two other traditions are also observed on Memorial Day:
Many Americans will leap headlong into the summer recreation season.
Many Americans will utilize the holiday to pursue other causes, some of them related to the essence of Memorial Day, many of them totally unrelated.
We would hope that those who take to the great outdoors at locales such as Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley take into consideration the sacrifices of all who have provided Americans with the freedom to pursue recreational enjoyment.
The right to indulge in recreational activities is not very high on the list of things that motivate men and women to serve in the armed forces, but it is not insignificant, either. “All work and no play,” et cetera.
Freedom of expression, on the other hand, is at or near the top of the list of motivating factors for those who willingly volunteer to serve in any number of capacities. Even when the exercise of that freedom disrespects those who helped to provide it, that is part of the deal.
Some Memorial Day exhibitions, such as the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride that calls the plight of American prisoners of war and those listed as missing in action (POW-MIA), have a direct relationship to the Memorial Day holiday.
Other activities, such as the Grass March – a horseback ride to publicly protest actions by the Bureau of Land Management that curtail cattle ranchers’ grazing rights on federal land – have nothing to do with the purpose of Memorial Day.
And there are those who question the sacrifice of American military members. In every war, critics assail the notion that violence and the inevitable ultimate sacrifices are justifiable.
It seems that the protestors have learned better than to direct their condemnation toward those who, for their own reasons, either agreed with or did not question the judgment of their government in sending them to fight. Most of the protesting nowadays is rightly directed toward the government that makes such decisions or against the decisions themselves.
In any event, the deeds of those who are remembered on Memorial Day are honorable. Whether the nature of their sacrifice is heroic or circumstantial, they all deserve to be memorialized in accordance with the words of the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verse 13: John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”