Memorial Day: Just another holiday?

It often seems that special days like:  Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day and many other “Holy-days” have lost their meaning.  They have become corrupted by our greed for leisure time and pleasure.  They represent “just another day off with pay.”  The true meaning and purpose of the day lies undiscovered in our rush to party or go to the big game.  How many of us celebrate the true meaning anymore of days like Memorial Day?  Do you realize that this is a day set aside to celebrate and commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of the millions of veterans who have given their lives for our freedom and way of life?  Do you ever wonder where these men and women got their courage from or how they could give up so much for you and me?  How many of us would risk our lives for an idea or for someone we did not know or for a principle that many people would hate us for upholding? 

In No time for heroes– an article by Bernie Reeves (May 2001), he writes:

 “Yet, even the most decorated veterans of the World War II era make it clear that they did not set out to become heroes, they just did their job. Heroes, it seems, are not born but created by events.  And the events have to be interpreted in the right light to qualify for hero creation.” 

 We have seen periods in history where heroes were laughed at as romantic fools and other periods where the lack of heroes was bemoaned.  Since 911, it seems that we are on the upswing, with heroism being lauded practically daily in the news or TV media.  We have seen anti-heroes, superheroes, cowards who become heroes and people for whom heroism is a part of their daily job.  At one point, a hero was anyone who risked their life to save others when they were under no obligation to do so.  We did not think of a hero or heroine as someone “just” doing their job. Today though, doctors, soldiers, nurses, fire-people and police are all hailed as heroes. There was a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson called “Richard Cory” in which everyone admired and envied the dapper and suave Mr. Cory. 

 In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place

 And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Dr. Ossian Sweet, (1905-1960) an African American man who stood up for what he believed and was a hero by any stretch of the imagination said:  “I have to die a man or live a coward.”  Dr. Sweet tried his hand at politics, running four times and losing each time.  He married his childhood sweetheart but divorced and remarried; his second marriage also ending in divorce.  In 1960, after years of ill health and depression, he was found dead, a bullet through his head and a revolver in his hand.  It is tough work being a hero.

We admire heroes and heroines and the world is a better place because of them. We each wonder in our hearts when we hear some heroic story what we would have done. Would we have just stood there watching or would we have run into the burning house, jumped into the icy pond or charged the raging bull.  Would we give our lives for our country and its values?  I hope that our world will always have a time for heroes and heroines and not make a mockery of their bravery by downgrading days like today as simply another day for a picnic.

People who give their lives for us may not be any different from the rest of us and they may never be able to live up to the expectations that attend their heroism but we should all be forever grateful to them.  Heroes and heroines show us a better world that could be when selfishness and greed are cast aside for love, country and values.   

Time for Questions:

Do you really remember the heroism and suffering paid by millions this Memorial Day for your freedom?  Do you stop to give thanks to Veterans? Are you one of those who have lost your sense of perspective on these special days?  Are your holy-days just another day of vacation?  What will it take for you to put the “holy” back into your holidays and to remember their true meaning?  

Life is just beginning.

 

3 Comments (+add yours?)

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    Jun 21, 2013 @ 17:20:34

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  2. johnpersico
    May 25, 2015 @ 11:52:57

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I wrote this blog two years ago, but it still seems appropriate and my thoughts just as pertinent as we celebrate Memorial Day today. Take a second please to think about what this day means before you have your holiday celebration. It is the least we can do today for those who gave their lives for our freedom and liberty.

    Reply

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