Holidays such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the Fourth of July have always been pretty special to me and NOT just because my birthday falls on one of them. I did go through a phase when the colors red, white, and blue together made me crazy because I received a LOT of red, white, and blue gifts over the years, but I was young, and today I adore those colors. Hearing and reading (and even watching) stories of soldiers from the Revolutionary War until now has really affected my heart. My dad went to Vietnam (army), my uncle was in the Gulf war (army), I have another uncle who was in the army, a brother in law currently serving in the Air Force Reserves and a cousin in active duty, another cousin in the Navy, my husband’s grandpa retired from the Air Force, and I have countless friends and loved ones who have served or are currently serving. I salute each and every one of you and for reasons I don’t even know how to explain.
You guys, I urge you to thank a veteran on days like these (any day you see one, but ESPECIALLY on these holidays). You see, you can be opposed to war and still the men and women in uniform will fight for you. You can be ungrateful and these men and women will still protect you. You might despise the federal government, but these men and women will still fight to protect your right to not only have that opinion, but to voice it. I don’t know about you guys, but that gets me emotional.
So, what is Memorial Day and why do we observe it? Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day and was brought about after the Civil War. Though the exact origin is unknown, “it was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic…[it] is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…the date of Decoration Day was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle” (Claybourn, 2014, http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2). Simply put, Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember those who have died in military service of the good ole US of A. This day is set aside each year for us to memorialize, remember, and honor those who have lost their lives to defend our rights that we (collectively speaking) take for granted. I mean, how often do you thank a vet for your right to repost that meme on Facebook or to voice your opinion regarding politics, religion, and everything in between? THINK ABOUT THIS! It’s kind of a big deal. A LONG, LONG time ago, those were not basic rights. Do you own a gun? Thank a vet. Do you have a bumper sticker on your car supporting a church or school or political candidate? Thank a vet. Do you write a blog or have any social media account? Thank a vet. Have you ever voted in an election? Thank a vet (and if you are over 18 and aren’t registered to vote, GET REGISTERED! NOW. Email me, I’ll help you!). So that is what Memorial Day is; a day when we honor those who have died in service to our country.
So WHY do we honor those who have fallen; why do we observe Memorial Day? Well, first off, my opinion on this is simple; RESPECT. I’ve never been to war. I’ve never worried that I wouldn’t see my family for months at a time or ever again. I’ve never fallen asleep to the sound of gunfire outside my camp. I’ve never walked around day in and day out in a Kevlar helmet because you never know what can happen or when. I’ve never driven a tank or an amphibious vehicle or had to fly through a fire zone. I haven’t had to do any of these things, but there are those who have done these very things in order to protect me and my chosen way of life. I am a Christian, I am a wife, I am a mom, I have been a student until recently, I am a home educator…and I’m pretty darn thankful for being able to have and be these things. THAT is why we honor these people and observe this day. THAT is why I get a lump in my throat when veterans are being recognized and I want to show them all the respect I have and they deserve.
Again, WHY do we observe this day; because we should. I don’t know if you all know this, but there was a time when military men and women would come home from war in secret. There was no welcome home party, no media coverage, and they didn’t even wear their uniforms. You know WHY??? Oh, just wait for this, it’s a classic. Because people were mad at troops for going to war and were using their FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS to voice their opinions (and then some) regarding this. Soldiers would come off a plane to riots and violence if people knew who they were and what plane they were coming in off of. SERIOUSLY. This is real life and it happened. I get that they might not have agreed to the reasons behind wars such as Vietnam and Korea, but does that give them the right to treat troops like dirt when they came home? Oh, wait, it actually does. Well maybe that particular war didn’t give them that right, but once upon a time our nation won a war that created that very right. So we have the right to treat people who serve our country like dirt…let that sink in for a minute, ok.
Of course you know I’m gonna pull out John 15:13 “greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NIV). And what I want to remind everyone in the midst of this day is that we are friends. We all want to live our lives and be happy and free, right? And for the most part we all want to (or should want to) be friendly to one another. I mean, though we have a world full of hate, is that what we really want? That isn’t what I want. I despise seeing the riots surrounding political debates and such lately. It makes me so sad to watch. What I want to say mostly is be respectful. Maybe you don’t like war, does anyone? Maybe you don’t like the government, does anyone (I KID)? Seriously, you don’t have to like any of this, but do you know that the Bible also says this: “do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if her were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters” (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV). We don’t have to like it, but we should treat people nicely. And if anyone deserves this, it’s a vet of ANY age and, of course, our elders. And by the way, venture out on Veterans Day this year and watch a service. My family went to the 45th Infantry Museum in OKC today to watch my husband’s grandpa and show honor, support, and respect for veterans on Memorial Day. Do this, though. Take your kids and let them watch. TEACH them that this is important. For the love of sanity and our nation, teach them respect! I was actually a little sad that the lawn wasn’t more crowded today, but that’s just me. Let’s rally together to show our love and support for the men and women who sacrifice so much for us. God bless America, we really do need it.
Finally: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘it is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” (Romans 12:14-21 NIV).
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies. (Moina Michael)