Where is the "Memorial" in Memorial Day
By Debbie Lee Monday, May 26 2014 @ 06:10 PM EDT
A MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE FROM GOLD STAR MOM DEBBIE LEE
As a Mother of a hero who willingly gave his life in combat, Memorial Day has taken on an entirely different meaning. My son Marc Alan Lee was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq 8-2-06. Three times that day he stood up into the direct line of fire and willingly gave his life defending his teammates and our freedoms.
Marc understood that there was a price for our freedom and like so many others before him, was willing to go into battle to keep America free.
Memorial Day is set aside to remember those brave warriors who while defending us, lost their lives in combat.
We have over 600,000 men and women who have died in combat since WWI. 600,000 Gold Star families and Brothers at arms, who have buried a loved one and to whom every day is/was Memorial Day.
You can imagine the pain and frustration to the friends and families of these fallen heroes when the majority of Americans are clueless as to the real meaning of Memorial Day. Our loved ones gave their final breath so that you could enjoy all of the freedoms and blessings that you have in America. All we ask is that as a nation we come together this weekend and acknowledge, honor and remember our heroes.
I have been on a campaign for years trying to educate people about the history and meaning of Memorial Day what it is and what it is not! It is not a time to "Celebrate Memorial day", it is not "Happy Memorial Day." I am sure that ignorance plays a part in the party mentality of the 3-day weekend. We see major advertising about big "blow out" sales, advertisements to "kick off your summer", prepare for the big bar-b-ques and camping trips and parades. Many families know it marks the end of the school year and the community pools will be opening.
I was part of that ignorant group for years. I wasn't taught the real meaning of Memorial Day. Oh we visited a few graves through the years and placed flowers on the graves of family members who had died in child-birth, from sickness and different causes. Most of the time it was just a family gathering with picnics and bar-b ques enjoying all of the freedoms that we have but not reflecting on those who paid the ultimate price so we could enjoy them. I was not taught, and I am sorry for the opportunities that were missed to honor our fallen, and focus on the sacrifices made for me.
Often times people mistakenly recognize and thank all of those who have served. Veterans Day is the National Holiday when we do that. I've dedicated my life to honoring and thanking our troops 24/7 364 days of the year, but Memorial Day is for those who died in war.
Tradition used to be that businesses closed on Memorial Day and flew their flags at half staff to remember our war dead, what a switch from today, where it has turned into a major money making weekend.
After the civil war ended Maj General Logan established Decoration Day and spoke these words. : "We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."
Have we as a nation forgotten the cost? Will you help me put Memorial back in Memorial Day?
Please plan your weekend to remember those heroes who gave everything for you. I'm not asking you not to have a bar-b-que, picnic or gatherings with families or to walk around with sullen faces the entire weekend. Our loved ones sacrificed so you could enjoy those freedoms, but there should be somber moments when we focus on the cost that was paid.
As you gather take advantage of that time together and take a few moments to share the story of a fallen hero, remind others what the real meaning of Memorial Day is about. Tell your children and grandchildren about these brave heroes who paid the price for them to enjoy this day, take them to a National Cemetery and place flowers on graves or stop and honor them. Attend a ceremony or memorial, watch a video or TV program about our fallen, read a story, find a Gold Star family near you and let them know you will never forget. If you know other Veterans ask them if they've lost a teammate and maybe they will tell you about them. Pray for the families of the fallen.
Technology has changed our world and it is so easy to find the History of Memorial Day, read about heroes, and reach out and honor and remember our fallen and their families.It is also a great way to remind your friends the real meaning of Memorial Day, use that tool to educate others and honor our fallen heroes who are America's National Treasures.
While we look back and remember our fallen heroes this weekend, we focus forward and live our lives worthy of the sacrifice they made for you, for me and for America, "the land of the free, because of the brave."
Gold Star Mom
Director of Military Outreach
Move America Forward