As this Memorial day passes, I thought back on the weekend and how, like many people, it reminded me of those that laid down their life to protect our freedoms. I moved back to my home town of Chattanooga, TN about 2 years ago and this is one of the few cities that still have a Memorial Day parade. Over the years I have noticed a shift in the way people see and react to this holiday.
Not many years ago, before 9-11 and Desert Storm, Memorial Day seemed to be only about the day off work. A day to grill and spend time with family. Not a bad reason to celebrate, I admit, but the true meaning of the holiday seemed to be lost. After I came home from Desert Storm, I noticed a shift in the Memorial Day celebrations. Attention was shifted back to veterans and military personnel, both in and out of combat zones. People seemed to come together even more after 9-11, when we realized that the United States is not invulnerable to attack.
I am proud to have served my country and have been accused by some of being overly patriotic. A product of being a retired Marine’s son I suppose. I adorn my car with red, white and blue, POW sticklers, 9-11 remembrance decals, and other things to show my support of our troops. Yes, it is a typical “Red Neck” type of car but it is who I am. As a veteran, I also where a ball cap that states “Desert Storm Veteran” with some of my medals pinned to it. Again, a red neck thing, I was even called out for it by George Carlin when I went to one of his shows in Biloxi, MS some years ago. I have been wearing that hat for over ten years and from time to time someone will approach me, shake my hand and thank me for serving. It makes me proud and a little embarrassed when this happens but I am as grateful as I can be, I thank them for their support, both then and now. I, in turn, make it a point to thank those that have served and continue to serve. When I see a man or woman in uniform, I will go out of my way to walk over to them and thank them. It’s not just something I feel obligated to do, but is really from the heart.
I hope that Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day continue to inspire people to think about what it took to create what we now take for granted. The saying “Freedom Isn’t Free” is more true than a lot of people realize. From the American Revolution to Afghanistan, men and women put their lives on the line willingly and proudly to defend and guarantee it.
Do you feel Memorial Day has regained its meaning? How many military veterans do you thank?
I would like to challenge each one of you who reads this to thank one military veteran a year, active or not, shake their hand and tell them you appreciate what they do. Trust me, each time someone does this it makes a veteran feel extremely good inside. It validates everything we have sacrificed and gone through to be able to defend our country. If you see a funeral for a fallen soldier, stop your car, get out and show respect for the person who dedicated their life to our country and its ideals.
asked Jun 01 '10 at 20:24