Was it a “Happy” Memorial Day?

  Words by Mike Weisbecker.

Now that we have gotten thru another “Happy” Memorial Day weekend, how many of you took some time to think about those of us who served but came home in a flag draped casket?  Or maybe are interred in one of the many cemeteries of our dead maintained in other countries by the American Battle Monuments Commission?  Or those maybe still on patrol in lost submarines and ships?  Or the thousands of missing in action?

I absolutely cringe when I hear someone utter “Happy” Memorial Day.  I have no problem with the three day weekend.  I attend a music festival each year on this weekend; you should enjoy your time off.  But on the day itself, take the time for some solemn reflection.   Think about family members who have served and paid the ultimate price.  Or if you have served, think of those of your brothers and sisters in arms who paid that price. 

How many of you have attended a ceremony honoring those who died while on active duty?  Is this the first time you are hearing that these ceremonies take place?

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War posts around the US and overseas usually have a ceremony at a veterans cemetery close to their posts every Memorial Day.  Why not peruse your local fish wrap and attend one next Memorial Day.  Or better yet, find the VFW or American Legion post in your area and ask them directly. 

Here is a challenge for next year:  I propose to veterans and those currently serving to make some time to attend one of these ceremonies in your area next year on Memorial Day.  Find two of your civilian friends with no military experience and ask them along as well.  Encourage them to chat with the post members before and after the ceremony.  Walk amongst the graves, read the names.  Every one of them signed the proverbial blank check when they raised their right hands and took the oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  They are the ones to pay the ultimate price. 

Also remember that others have lost their lives alongside those of us who did join the military.  Department of Defense civil servants, exchange employees, USO and American Red Cross employees, and contractors.  They may not go “outside the wire”, but they get to hunker down just like everyone else when the bad guys start lobbing bombs and shells over that wire. 

Enjoy that weekend.  Spend time with friends and family.  But on that last Monday at the end of May, take a little time to pay tribute to those who believed enough in this country and it’s values to defend them.