Memorial Day an uncomfortable holiday

Memorial Day has never been a comfortable holiday for me. It is a day when our unbridled patriotism is confronted with the reality of sacrifice – and how great that sacrifice can be. Sometimes the things that mean the most to us are the hardest to explain.
We spend the morning at cemeteries filled with crosses, flags and poppies. We hear prayer, gunfire and “Taps” played by the trumpet over the silent crowds. The proceedings bring many strong feelings of sadness, thankfulness and pride. It becomes easy to understand why our nation is strong and proud and blessed.
Memorial Day is not a holiday when we go out and celebrate in typical fashion. We grieve for the war heroes we’ve lost and remember how they made a difference in our lives. We are reminded that we would not live the lives we do if it were not for the service of our veterans. Unlike many holidays, Memorial Day does not only look at the past but also at the present and the dedication so many give to tomorrow’s generation.
It might be the closest we come to seeing and understanding the sacrifices members of the military have made for us. As we go from cemetery to cemetery, we can see that it has taken many brave men and women for us to live the way we do today.
I remember when I was about 7 or 8 and my younger cousin would sometimes come and stay with us. Her mom was overseas with the National Guard during the first Gulf War. We’d have a great time playing during the day. Then when it would get dark and we’d get ready for bed, it would become harder for her and she would ask questions about her mom.
It was not easy for a 2-year-old to understand the importance of what our soldiers were doing when she just wanted her mom back. I can’t imagine it is much easier for a parent to go through the separation either.
It was wonderful to ride the bus to the airport the day my aunt was coming back. There were flags, yellow ribbons and smiles all around.
Maybe it is the strong emotions that make Memorial Day an uncomfortable holiday, because the sacrifice is constantly renewed with each generation. The wounds of the past can never finally heal, because we all can relate the stories to people we know today. It doesn’t only bring back the memories of smiles, but also of the hard times and the sacrifices we witness in every war. While most soldiers come back without injuries, they sacrifice a great deal by giving up time, sometimes years, from their children and family or their careers.
Every soldier makes sacrifices.
We can all observe Memorial Day and hopefully understand the gifts we have been given because an American soldier put dreams for their country ahead of their own. It is a selfless act to serve in the U.S. armed forces, and we should be thankful every day for the gifts they provide us.
When we wear the poppies that symbolize Memorial Day, we acknowledge the service of our soldiers. They have given all of us the freedom to take any path we choose. Memorial Day offers us a renewal of our patriotism and a day to be thankful.

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