Before you settle into your picnics, parties, camping, swimming at the local pool, cookouts and snatching as much candy as you can at your local parade, try to stop and think a moment of what the upcoming holiday really means to you.
As a 25-year veteran of the Air Force and a military spouse, I know what Memorial Day means to me.
Memorial Day weekend is chatting with one of my best friends online who is deployed right now. It’s helping another battle buddy of mine with tips as she transitions out of the Air Force. And the most rewarding part of the weekend is the opportunity to give back by volunteering with my kids at Westerville’s Field of Heroes.
In case you don’t know what the Field of Heroes is, its a display of more than 3,000 full-sized American flags placed in rows in the large green field across from the Westerville Community Center. Each year a special part of the field is set up to honor a specific veteran population. Three years ago the field honored Korean Veterans, two years ago the honorees were OIF/OEF veterans and last year the field honored female veterans. This year we are honoring those who are POW/MIA.
We have been doing it every year since 2009.
It’s a chance to show my kids what dedication, honor, and respect are. And it’s a chance to help bridge the military-civilian divide.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website, Memorial Day is defined as a day that “commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.”
One percent of the general population step forward, raise their hands and promise to serve without asking for anything in return.
Those men and women have sacrificed time with their families so that the other 99 percent can live free. They have waved goodbye, sometimes multiple times without knowing whether or not they would ever come home. They have missed their kids’ milestones, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. They did their jobs.
Memorial Day is also a day we are reminded of what every veteran has given to this country. Every veteran, whether he or she served in war or in peacetime, made sacrifices, most known to no one but themselves.
So, try to go to a wreath laying ceremony, a flag display, your local military museum, a parade or Memorial Day commemoration and think about the one percent and those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those that did their jobs and didn’t come home.
Then you can celebrate the promise and possibility that the beginning of summer brings.