While it has come to be an “unofficial” jump-start to the summer vacation season, Memorial Day is a time when we should take stock of the freedoms we enjoy in America, and the sacrifices that have been made to ensure them.
There’s an old saying that applies: Freedom isn’t free.
No, freedom comes at great costs, none greater than the losses of life that have taken place on battlefields across the globe. American blood has been spilled for more than two centuries now, each drop a high payment for the protection and continuation of our democratic republic.
Because of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have been willing to place their lives in harm’s way, we have the freedoms to speak our minds, to attend — or not attend — religious meetings, to pursue happiness and all of the other aspects of life that we too often take for granted.
No one goes into a battle with plans not to return. But the warriors — both men and women — who have fought and who continue to fight for America know the dangers.
On too many occasions, these Americans, the bravest among us, have been called on to make that ultimate sacrifice.
When an American dies in battle, it’s not an isolated event. There are repercussions that are felt back home. A spouse may be left behind, or children, siblings, parents, cousins, friends, co-workers. These Americans also pay a heavy price in the protection of all that we hold dear.
This is a day when the American flag seems just a little more brilliant in its scarlet, navy and white as it flows in the wind at half-mast, a salutation and a representation of a nation’s thanks to those who gave their lives for their fellow Americans.
It doesn’t seem onerous then that we stop, if just for a few, brief moments, to remember why we observe Memorial Day. The grill will wait. So will the watercraft, the swimming pool and any other activity that grabs our attention on this holiday. Because of these sacrifices and those who, thankfully, survived, we’re able to engage in these distractions and consider what we’ll do to entertain ourselves as the days continue to grow longer and hotter.
We owe our fallen and those they left behind a debt that we cannot possibly hope to repay. But we can ensure that their sacrifices have not been in vain by holding our freedoms dear and ensuring that no one usurps them from us. They have entrusted us to carry on. It is the least — the very least — that we can do to honor them.