-By Frank Salvato
As we enter into the Memorial Day weekend, many people are preparing their families for a weekend of fun, sunshine, the celebration of the unofficial beginning of Summer, BBQs, picnics and the like. Many people will be traveling to see family and friends, taking the opportunity that an extended weekend affords, to spend time with the ones they value most in life. While all of these actions can be considered “traditional,” they miss the mark on what Memorial Day is all about and miss it by a country mile.
The origin of Memorial Day centers on the American Civil War. This day, originally set at May 30th of every year, was at first an observance of those who died fighting for the Union cause.
One scholar, Professor David Blight of Yale University’s history department, cites the first Memorial Day as having taken place in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. On this day, according to Professor Blight, liberated slaves and Union soldiers gathered on the grounds of a former Confederate prison camp, grounds that also served as a mass grave for Union soldiers. A solemn parade ensued culminating in the singing of patriotic songs, a picnic and a remembrance of those who gave their lives to secure the unity of the Union.
In this long standing tradition, Memorial Day has come to symbolize a day when Americans of every political and ideological stripe break from their everyday lives in order to give thanks to those who have died taking up arms to afford our nation the freedoms and liberties that most of the time we all take for granted.
But the true meaning of Memorial Day has progressively become bastardized over the years. It has become simply another three day weekend when car dealers, clothing stores and furniture outlets market “big, big savings,” and oil companies jack gasoline prices through the roof just in time to fleece motorists traveling over the holiday weekend.
Memorial Day has this year become a politically opportune occasion for Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards who narcissistically – and repulsively – issued anti-war campaign propaganda telling his supporters to make Memorial Day about ending the Iraq War rather than about honoring those who made it possible for him to desecrate the day with partisan politics.
Americans owe it to those who have been felled protecting our freedoms to honor them on this, the one day of the year set aside for contemplating the sacrifices of the few for the many who take their deaths for granted. Consider it a civic responsibility. Consider it a teachable moment, should you be a parent, an opportunity to explain to your child or children what freedom and liberty really mean. Explain to them that declared independence brought with it a need for the loyalty of patriots willing to die so that we could reap the benefits of their dedication.
This day is not about you, it is about them.
This Memorial Day, take the time to remember those who have given all so that we may live free. Use the Internet to find memorials, parks and museums dedicated to those who have died securing the liberties which we enjoy every day and go to them. Honor the memory of our fallen heroes. Honor them by remembering them. Thank them. Be thankful for them. . .and be proud to be thankful for them.
This Memorial Day, as you sit along Main Street, USA, watching the parade, remember to stand up when those in uniform and those who have served pass in review. Honor their service, their sacrifices, their commitment to our freedoms – to your freedoms – by making the simple gesture of getting off your butts, being reverent, if only for a moment, and showing your gratitude.
Those who condemn me for my loyalty to our country – my patriotism – and my appreciation for those who afforded me the opportunity to express my opinions as I do, do so in direct contempt of the efforts of those who have died expressly so they could be so ignorant of the freedoms they enjoy.
This Memorial Day, I remember those who have died in the service of our country. I remember the US soldiers who died on all the battlefields to which they were called, from the battlefields of the Civil War and Cantigny to the beaches of Normandy and the desert sands of Iraq. I remember those who braved death so that we could live. . .in freedom, with liberty. I am thankful for their sacrifices. I am thankful for their service. I stand proud to be an American, a champion for the light of freedom around the world, that light illuminated by the dedication and sacrifice of those who have taken up arms to defend our nation and the ideals for which it stands.
It’s about time those who have nothing good to say about our country realize they have this luxury because of those we honor on Memorial Day. To the ungrateful, the visionless, to the hate-America crowd I say, especially on this solemn day, shut-up, sit down and think about the gift that you desecrate with each condemnation of the freedoms you abuse. Shame becomes the shallow, it’s just too bad they are too shallow to feel it.
To those who understand the gifts presented to us by the fallen, I ask you to join me in re-committing yourselves to celebrating the correct things this Memorial Day; the lives, the memories and the sacrifices of those whose deaths allow us not to live in fear.
In their memory, I stand proud. . .and so should you.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal . He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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