Why Memorial Day?


Today in the United States we pause to remember our war dead on a National Holiday known as Memorial Day. The intent of Memorial Day has always been about honoring the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to their country. It has somehow expanded over the years to include honoring anyone one who served and today it seems to be more about anyone who ever lived. But that’s NOT what Memorial Day is about. It is about remembering those brave people who died in service to their country.

Sadly, research shows a surprising number of Americans know it more as the “start of summer” or the opening of public swimming pools.

Here’s something else the vast majority of Americans appear to have no idea about…

In 2000 Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. This act, signed into law by the President proclaims Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as the time to join in prayer and to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.

The act was needed, Congress stated at the time, because “we need to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”

Today, while we “celebrate” Memorial Day only a tiny percentage of Americans will actually take time to join in a formal remembrance ceremony of any kind. We’re a busy bunch we Americans, we need to make the most of this “long weekend.” I’m like that too! I’m embarrassed to admit it.

But this day is not about us! This is not “our” day, it’s a day for those whose sacrifice on our behalf is immeasurable. It’s a day for those who made, and continue to make, the United States what it is. Every accomplishment, every success, every opportunity we owe to them.

So, no matter how full our schedule today, no matter how much we “have” to get done, let’s stop and remember their sacrifice, let’s honor them by giving them a bit of our time. We can never repay them or their families but we can we genuinely appreciate them.

Are you with me?