What does Memorial Day mean to you?
BRENDA – Carmel, IN, Executive, Married, 1 Step-Son, Middle Sister – Several years ago I was in Washington D.C. on business, and I took in a bit of sightseeing too. I wanted to see the Vietnam War Memorial. From a distance walking up to it, I was struck by the simplicity and the beauty of it glimmering in the sun.
When I got up close and began looking at it in detail, a chill actually ran up my body when it occurred to me every inch had the name of a soldier who had died in Vietnam. The magnitude of all of those names, the lives cut short, and the families they left behind hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the first time I realized what war was in terms of the sacrifices of fallen soldiers.
While in Washington D.C. on another business trip, I went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited Arlington National Cemetery. Again, the magnitude of simple white crosses brings a meaningful perspective for Memorial Day reverence.
A few years ago, mom took me to a cemetery in Geneva, because she wanted to make sure I knew where our great and 2X-great grandparents from Sweden were buried. It was a peaceful, beautiful, very old cemetery, and I walked around looking at many of the ornate and unusual headstones. I started to notice there were rows and rows of headstones of young men ranging from 18 to 23 with WWI and WWII service on them. My eyes filled with tears when I realized how very young so many of these brave fallen soldiers were.
So yes, I know what the true meaning of Memorial Day is, and it is very personal to me. I always say a prayer thanking our soldiers for their sacrifice and their families for enduring this life changing pain for our country.
JAY – Carmel, IN, Executive, 1 Son, Brenda’s Husband – As a veteran, Memorial Day holds special meaning for me. We take our freedom for granted. Many Americans do not give a second thought to the rights given us as citizens of this great country, nor do many consider the sacrifice of all of the soldiers who died defending and protecting our rights and freedom.
Memorial Day is the one day out of the year set aside to remind us Freedom isn’t free. The cost of freedom for us as Americans is every American soldier who has paid with their lives for us to enjoy the beauty, opportunity, prosperity, and freedom this nation provides us as citizens.
Every American soldier who died in every war ever fought by this great nation should be remembered and honored every day of the year, not just on Memorial Day. I have visited Arlington National Cemetery. For me, it is the single place that best illustrates for us as Americans what the cost of freedom really is.
KELLY – Kaiserslautern, Germany, Medical Industry, Married, 2 Young Daughters, Linda’s Younger Daughter – Memorial Day for me is a day to reflect on all the service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country! It’s a day of pride and sadness.
Maybe it’s because I’m a veteran and a military wife, but on Memorial Day I get an overwhelming burst of emotions. It’s not something I can put into words but more like that feeling you get when you hear the Star Spangled Banner or listen to your child’s class recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a day to be thankful, a day to remember, and a day full of emotion for me.
WILL – Kaiserslautern, Germany, Public Service, 2 Young Daughters, Kelly’s Husband – Memorial Day is a day that makes me proud to serve and give back to those who sacrificed their lives before me. I am happy to be a part of a free country, and Memorial Day is one of the days that celebrates that.
LINDA – Clinton, UT, Public Sector, Married, 2 Daughters & 2 Step-Sons, Middle Sister – In my career I have worked in several positions working directly with members of the military and their families. I have always had a sense of pride, respect, and patriotism while working side by side with these active duty military members and now the veterans of many service branches who come to our VA Hospital.
It is a true pleasure to spend time with these veterans and listen to their personal memories of their military missions, successes, and comrade brothers and sisters they have fought with. I notice they all have personal experience with loss and having a good buddy who didn’t make it home. They are fiercely loyal to their comrade’s life and memory of them. They show emotion easily and want you to know how much their buddy sacrificed for them and our country.
All these veterans love our country and tell me they would do it again to keep our country free and safe. Every Memorial Day I take time to just reflect on how much I appreciate our men and women in military service past and present, because truly, without their courage, heroism, and historical war successes, our country would not have survived as we know it today.
Freedom to me is not just a word. As an American, when I hear our national anthem or say the pledge of allegiance, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and loyalty and look to the heavens and say a silent thank you to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice…..their life.
LEON – Clinton, UT, Public Sector, 2 Sons & 2 Step-Daughters, Linda’s Husband – To me, Memorial Day shouldn’t necessarily be a holiday. I believe that, because there shouldn’t be one specific day of the year when we are supposed to thank our nation’s heroes for their sacrifice. We should always be aware and thank our military and others who have paid the ultimate price for us to be able to speak, think, and act freely every day of our lives.
NEAL – Lock Haven, PA, Lock Haven University Student, Single, No Kids, Linda’s Younger Step-Son – Memorial Day to me is about enjoying yourself with family and friends in honor of those who sacrificed for your ability to enjoy freedom.
Photo Credit – Arlington Cemetery