Today is a day we recognize as a holiday, and for most of us, Memorial Day is an overdue day away from the office. It’s a day to leisurely enjoy time with friends, throw together summer fare to bring to our neighborhood cook-outs, and indulge in poolside relaxation. But, how often do we consciously consider why we’re afforded the luxury of such free time today?
Without being prompted, we often don’t recognize or realize the cost of our freedom: the men and women who have fought for us, for the many ways we choose our ways of life, and given their lives to preserve those choices.
Until yesterday, I really & truly believed that I was fully aware of the significance of Memorial Day, that I “got” it; I know people lost their lives, that soldiers fight every day. I read the Facebook posts of thanks and notice more high-flying flags decorating the Atlanta streets than usual, but the impact of why we celebrate this day did not truly hit home until last night while sitting in an Irish Pub, of all places.
A local musician & friend stopped three times during his three-hour set to gently remind us of the significance of Memorial Day. Though it took only mere moments for him to describe his ten years in the Army, his fortunate return home, and the loss of his fellow servicemen and women, his words were piercing. His effect on all of us, lightheartedly singing and dancing and getting rowdy for the three-day weekend, was palpable.
Perhaps it was his specific mention of the women who did not return that grabbed my attention or because he stopped during his own time in the spotlight to honor a cause greater than himself… Whatever the reason, raising my glass just felt different, heavier and deliberate. And then he went on singing but that contemplative toast still lingered as we sang along to his songs.
With that, Memorial Day became more than a holiday, but instead an occasion to be thankful for and mindful of the many luxuries and freedoms that we can often take for granted.
For all of those who have fought for our country, in honor of those who did not return, and in reverence for the families who lost a loved one, thank you.