When I was a young kid, Memorial Day was a big deal in my small community. The end of the school year would come in a couple of weeks and summer was just around the corner, but the day had so much more meaning.
The highlight of the day was our local Memorial Day Parade. The parade wasn’t long, maybe just over a mile long in length, and included a few freshly-cleaned fire trucks and local men squeezed tight into their old military uniforms, carrying the U.S. Flag, but the whole town would shut down. Our Cub Scout Pack or baseball team, sponsored by the local farm equipment manufacturer, would congregate in the parking lot of a local church and walk in the parade as a group. We’d wear our uniform and walk proudly through the middle of town.
The parade would stop in the middle of town at the local VFW building, where everyone would come together for a hamburger or hot dog and a soda. Someone would offer up a prayer and some local dignitary would get up and talk about the purpose of Memorial Day and how it was to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military and thank everyone for coming out.
As a small kid, I was caught up in my own little world, but even then, I couldn’t help but think of the sacrifices of others to make this a more perfect union. I’ve long since moved away from the area to start a new life of my own, but when Memorial Day comes around, I still end up thinking back on how we honored those who came before us and their ultimate sacrifice. They died in faraway places like Normandy, the Chosin Reservoir, She Sanh, Medina Ridge, Fallujah, and countless other battlefields across the glob, protecting all that we hold dear.
Yes, I’ll be thinking today of those we’ve lost. I’ll be thinking of the soldiers—the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters—that never came home. I like to think that we honor their sacrifice best, by spending time with family and friends, and enjoying our freedom as a nation.
Yes, I’ll be thinking of them and I’ll say a prayer of thanksgiving and remembrance. Yes, thank you, our heroes.
Happy Memorial Day.