Perhaps it is easier to look above the rows of markers neatly placed on the green grass and focus on the distant horizon where friends and family await. By ignoring the past sacrifices of the men and women for fought our past battles, we can forget about those that sacrifice themselves today. Yes we fly our flags, maybe read the usual Memorial Day story and perhaps watch the news, but in the end the day is about us and our families, not those we are supposed to be remembering.
On the Fourth of July we celebrate our country’s independence. Veteran’s Day we remember our living service members. Thanksgiving we celebrate the Pilgrims, as well as, all we have been blessed with in our lives. We look forward to President’s Day and time off as we recall George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and 43 other holders of the office. Christmas celebrates a life, and Easter we celebrate new life. New Years’ Day we party and hope for a better year.
What do we celebrate on Memorial Day? It seems we don’t want to remember. The number of parades, events and attendees shrink each year. As you take another scoop of potato salad, do you remember the soldiers that fought on Hamburger Hill, as you tan at the beach does the gentle crashing of waves cause you to reflect on D-Day and Omaha Beach, as you float at the pool do you reflect on the terror of the sailors of the USS Indianapolis? As you look across the park at the others picnicking do you imagine the Doughboys leaving the safety of their trenches and crossing “no man’s land.” As you lay sunbathing do you worry that you’ve left the tv on, or does the “Forgotten War” of Korea cross your mind? As you stand over your four foot putt do either of the Gulf Wars enter you consciousness? Probably not.