For those of my readers who don’t live in the United States, this coming weekend is a holiday in America. The last Monday in May, we pause to celebrate those who have died fighting battles and wars for America. It was started in 1865 honoring the slaves who fought in the Civil War. Officially it was as Decoration Day (to redecorate the burial tombstones of those who fought), and then in 1971, the name was changed to Memorial Day to remember all of those who fought.
Unofficially, it is the start of summer even though the calendar states it won’t happen until the summer solstice.
For many, it is a public holiday with workplaces, banks, and even the mail takes the day off. Some workplaces take Friday-Monday off giving people 4 days off in a row. It can easily be seen how this solemn event can turn into parties…but at least that is how some people view it. Here is my take on Memorial Day, and 5 ways to celebrate & remember it.
- Remember those who died in battles for our country
- Remember those who are still mourning
- Remember those who are still fighting today struggling with battle scars, hidden fears, trauma, loss of limbs, nightmares, PTSD, depression
- Remember times of togetherness, family, and friends – and yes enjoy these times and make memories together
- Remember to Pause – in prayer, with gratitude and thankfulness
I am thankful for those who have fought in the countless battles and wars for the freedom of America. The men and women on the front line fighting bravely. The support staff driving the vehicles, flying the planes, and piloting the ships & submarines. The mechanics and engineers. The doctors and nurses. The chefs who feed our troops. It takes more than firing a rifle to make a soldier; it takes thousands of selfless people supporting them as they fight. It’s not just the fighting soldiers who are killed in battle, others are too.
The grieving spouse who has lost their loved one. The child whose parent will never come. The friends who are gone forever.
Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;
When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave which your dear eyes return’d with a look I shall never forget,
One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach’d up as you lay on the ground,
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle,
Till late in the night reliev’d to the place at last again I made my way,
Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your body son of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene, cool blew the moderate night-wind,
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade—not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole,
Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I think we shall surely meet again,)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear’d,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop’d well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head and carefully under feet,
And there and then and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited,
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field dim,
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget, how as day brighten’d,
I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell. ~ Walt Whitman, Public Domain
Memorial Day weekend is a great time to spend together with family friends. Cook some burgers. Attend parades. But during these times, remember (and help) those who are still struggling with loss and pain.