Memorial Day is just a few days away. Can you believe that summer is just around the corner? What do you do for Memorial Day? What are some of your traditions? Do you know what it’s really about? Is it just another day off work or school?
Growing up, Memorial Day meant going to town for the parade and then cookouts with family and then friends, as we got older. I was in Girl Scouts from 1st grade through my freshman year of high school. Our troop always marched in the parade carrying a huge American Flag. Once I got to marching band, we marched in the parade and then played at the ceremony after at the court house. From there, I’d go to my grandma’s house and hang out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Once I got to high school, I started going out with friends somewhere instead. We had this place between our house and town that we called Road Side Rest. It was like a little park by a creek that we could go swimming in. Those of us in the band had a HUGE picnic there after our last day of band camp every year. It was also a hugely popular place on Memorial Day.
I’ve always had an interest in history. Now I’m married to a history nerd. In high school, I started to learn about the history of Memorial Day – how it started. There’s a pretty cool website called Memorial Day (http://usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html) that gives a pretty good history lesson.
Now that I’ve been in the Army and am married to a soldier, Memorial Day takes on a whole different meaning to me. We live next door to a WWII vet. He’s a pretty awesome guy. He’s in his mid-80’s and still gets up early everyday and goes to work (he owns a lumber yard) and on the weekends he bowls and plays golf. He’s told my husband some stories about his time in the Army. He was with the 66 th ID and got out as a Staff Sergeant. He was in France when The Battle of the Bulge happened (he wasn’t in that particular battle, but from what I understand, he wasn’t far from it). He is also a POW. I know that he lost a lot of his buddies and friends during WWII and since then. Once a year, he and some of his battle buddies still get together for a week-long trip somewhere. I’m amazed and impressed by my neighbor. He’s still very supportive of our troops and sends care packages to deployed soldiers. I can’t help but think of what Memorial Day must be like for him?
My husband’s unit was VERY fortunate during their last deployment that everyone came home alive and in one piece. Not everyone is that fortunate though. Memorial Day is a day to remember what they sacrificed for us and for our freedom. They paid the ultimate price. I am truly thankful for their service and their sacrifice. Memorial Day, to me, means a time for reflecting on the sacrifices that these soldiers have made for us. It also means thanking those who are currently serving, because they are sacrificing themselves. Their families are making sacrifices too. I won’t say it doesn’t suck – because it does. Let’s be grateful and thankful for them and for each other, as military spouses. We’re all making that sacrifice.