Not just another day at the pool.

So, Star, co-founder of Army Wife Network, asked me to write a blog for Memorial Day. Being the eager beaver (what else rhymes with eager?) I am, I jumped on it. Then, ten minutes later it hit me; I had no idea what I was going to write about. What is Memorial Day, anyway? I talked to my husband, and he wasn’t even 100% sure. I went to Google and typed in “what is me…” and the first suggestion was “What is Memorial Day.” Really. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who were wondering. After doing some reading, I think the New York Times said it best: “Memorial Day is a holiday that has evolved dramatically over the years. Memorial Day observances began after the Civil War to honor the Union soldiers who gave their lives in the conflict. They were expanded after World War I to become a tribute to the dead of all the nation’s wars. … More recently, the last Monday in May, and the weekend preceding it, has come to mark the unofficial beginning of summer for many.”

Why has Memorial Day gone from a day to commemorate fallen service members to the day after the pool opens for the summer? Is it because we don’t have any set traditions? We light fireworks and barbecue for the 4th of July. We exchange presents and trim trees for Christmas. We expect heart-shaped boxes of chocolate from our husbands on Valentine’s Day. How has Memorial Day fallen by the wayside?

Trying to figure out what to write about a holiday that many people don’t really “observe,” even though they are given the day off, was tough for me. So, I decided to pick the brains of my friends to try to figure out why Memorial Day doesn’t get the recognition is deserves.

Here’s how the conversation with my best friend, Shawna, went:
Me: It is a sad holiday when you think about it.
Shawna: Yeah, it really is. We used to go to Arlington for Memorial Day when we were in Maryland. I never made it through that day without bawling my eyes out. Thats why no one likes it; it’s not fun.
Me: Huh. You’re right. But why does something have to be fun for us to pay attention?
Shawna: Human nature? My mawmaw was such a big part of my life. I miss her so much, but I don’t think about her because it hurts. I can’t even remember the good times because it hurts too much to remember she’s gone. But you don’t care that my grandma died. So, if you have no personal ties to Memorial Day, why do you care?

Of all the conversations I’ve had about Memorial Day in the last 24 hours, this one with Shawna really struck a chord with me. And she’s right; you don’t care about her mawmaw, because you didn’t know her. We don’t care about the things that don’t somehow personally touch us. We might not recognize it, but we ALL have personal ties to Memorial Day. For some reason, we don’t acknowledge it. With less than 1% of our country serving in the armed forces, having personal ties to the military isn’t something everyone experiences. I know I didn’t know a single person in the military until I met my husband at age 19. But you know what we experience every day in the United States? Freedom. Freedom lives because they died. Think about that on your Memorial Day off while you sit by the pool.

Let’s start a tradition. Let’s get a dialogue going about the sacrifices the 1% make for the 99%. Wear your red poppies, wave your American flag, and START TALKING. Exercise that freedom of speech your fellow Americans died to preserve.

Here’s to the spirit of our great nation and to all fallen service members! Happy Memorial Day.

 

Photo by Randy Bish of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

About Retired Blogger

Army Wife Network is blessed with many military spouses and family members that share their journey through blogging in our Experience blog category. As we PCS in our military journey, bloggers too sometimes move on. Their content and contributions are still valued and resourceful. Those posts are reassigned under "Retired Bloggers" in order to allow them to remain available as content for our AWN fans.

12 Responses to “Not just another day at the pool.”

  1. Starlett Henderson May 25, 2012 2:08 pm
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    Thanks Emily Ann Grace! I so appreciate your perspective as a newbie and a voice of “this generation.”

    Recently, I received an email about “Memorial Week” and I thought, “Great! In some people’s minds this observance has been extended and they’re taking even more time out to pay their respects.”

    Alas, it was a shopping sale email. But still, our freedom to continue on is something to celebrate.
    And fallen soldiers, if alive today, would no doubt mix it up with bbq and a moment of silence.
    That’s all I ask, that that moment to reflect exists and is deep enough to bring to light the true reason for Memorial Day.

    Thank you. And thank you too Shawna.

  2. Indi Green Soronen May 25, 2012 2:22 pm
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    Very nicely said. Thank you for this. I have always thought Memorial Day has become to commercialed and people have forgotten the true purpose of it. Every year a take a moment and send out a silent prayer for those that are serving that they may return to their loved ones safely. A moment a silence and a Thank You to those that have served and were not fortunate enough to make it back. I appreciate everything they have done and are doing for us!

  3. Starlett Henderson May 25, 2012 2:25 pm
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    Emily Ann Grace: Meet my twin sister, Indi Green Soronen. You remind me of each other a lot!

  4. Starlett Henderson May 25, 2012 2:28 pm
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    Army Wife Network remembers the fallen this Memorial Day with ‘Fox and Friends’!
    I hope we get the chance to talk about the same things you learned while writing this blog: http://www.armywifenetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/Memorial-Day-2012-Fox-and-Friends.pdf.

  5. Emily Ann Grace May 25, 2012 2:37 pm
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    Nice to “meet” you, Indi! You sound fabulous. 🙂

  6. Indi Green Soronen May 25, 2012 2:38 pm
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    Nice to meet you too. Great job on your article. Brought tears to my eyes.

  7. Indi Green Soronen May 25, 2012 2:43 pm
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    Star, I’m gonna lend my book to the Bluff’s for the Holiday. I thought our Veterans there may enjoy it.

  8. Starlett Henderson May 25, 2012 2:52 pm
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    That is a great idea. Thank you! You should have them all sign it or write about what they love about military life. (or put it on a sheet you can save). I’ll be up there around the 30th.

  9. Indi Green Soronen May 25, 2012 3:16 pm
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    Maybe I could set it up and you could interview a few of them? That would be pretty cool.

  10. Starlett Henderson May 25, 2012 3:17 pm
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    We’ll talk offline. 🙂

  11. Shawna May 26, 2012 12:05 am
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    I always think the things you say are insightful. You really talk to the people who are afraid to say what they think. The world needs more people like you and I feel blessed every day that you are in my life.

  12. Nicole Darrow Burkhart May 26, 2012 6:38 pm
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    so true