Putting the memory in Memorial Day

While many Americans commonly regard Memorial Day as the official start of summer, we need to remember its true purpose as a holiday.

Indeed, this sacred day is set aside for pride, honor, remembrance, and most importantly, respect in one’s nation. All too often, important holidays such as Christmas and Easter are completely commercialized to the extent that their original purpose is transformed into days of over-indulgence and excess. However, if there is one holiday that should be regarded as sacred, it should most definitely be Memorial Day.

In this time of desperation and turmoil for our country, we must exhibit respect and reverence for those who died defending our homeland. Unfortunately, our country is slowly losing sight of the true purpose of this holiday.

Memorial Day is truly a unique and special holiday to America because it is a day reserved for civilians to show their appreciation to those who sacrificed their lives for the protection and preservation of America’s freedoms. However, throughout the years, it seems as though the holiday has lost its meaning to become a day of barbecues and bonfires, rather than one of remembrance and appreciation. I certainly would not dismiss or disregard the typical festivities we all know and love; in fact, these gatherings are an essential part in remembering and appreciating those who have served our country so faithfully and selflessly. But we must keep in mind the original intent of this day.

Memorial Day is also unique in the manner that it can cross all barriers because all religions, races, genders and ages can appreciate and recognize its significance. We must also acknowledge that this day extends far beyond family gatherings and good times with loved ones, as it should raise social consciousness, awareness and more importantly, ignite a sense of patriotism among all Americans.

With thousands of troops overseas, this holiday is particularly relevant in 2004 and more important than ever. Everyday people are called to fight for us and die as a result. Unfortunately, we will never be able to personally thank all of these soldiers, and therefore it is more than appropriate that we dedicate one day of the year to commemorate these noble people for their extraordinary service. Indeed, their level of patriotism is a true testament to their character and dedication, without which we might be denied many of the everyday luxuries we take for granted.

Moreover, those who have lost loved ones in this current war in Iraq will experience a type of loss most of us never will, and to continue casually brushing this day off without truly appreciating that sacrifice would be to dismiss their grief.

Like Christmas and Easter, it seems as though Memorial Day is becoming a holiday that is no longer an accurate representation of its original purpose. Christmas has evolved from a primarily religious celebration into a materialistic and self-indulgent day that revolves around packed shopping malls and greedy children. Likewise, Easter has been commercialized to a ridiculous extent with its scavenger hunts and pastel eggs. Most holidays in America have lost their meaning and significance and have become excuses for parties and presents, what a shame it would be if Memorial Day turns into one of them.

As Americans, we owe a certain respect and gratitude to those who fought and are still fighting for our basic freedoms. At the very least, we can take a moment to wholeheartedly appreciate and reflect on all that has been done for us. In fact, it is vital that we take time out from our hot dogs and sing-a-longs this Memorial Day to pay our respects to the red, white and blue.

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