To celebrate this Memorial Day, Dan, the kids, and I are driving to Mercer County, PA to spend time with family. It's on long road trips like this one that we often find ourselves being asked a million questions and that half of them are "Are we there yet?" The other half of them are about science and history and a many number of different subjects.
On this trip Donovan asked me why we celebrate Memorial Day. I told him it is a day that we honor and remember those who have died in service to our nation. He wanted to know how we do that. How do we honor and remember those brave men and women? I stated the obvious parades, cook-outs, a moment of silence. That seemed to satisfy the question monster for a moment. However, I found myself thinking about how we honor and remember and too be honest; I am not satisfied.
As an Iraq war veteran this day holds special meaning for me because of the friends I have lost, my husband's friends he lost, and even Dan's grandfather- a Korean War veteran and the friends he lost too. Memorial Day has signified for many the unofficial kick-off of summer with kids getting out of school soon, vacations, and warmer weather.
But here is the question: How many people stop by grave sites and cemeteries of our fallen veterans and place flags (known as Flag In)? Not many. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected. I have decided that I want to start a new family tradition with my children. I want them to know that this is a day of observance and we must do what we can to remember and honor the nation's heroes. We will start the day off by flying the flag half-staff from sunrise until noon and then raise it briskly to the top of the staff until sunset as is the custom for Memorial Day and we will visit the grave site of our local battle heroes who have given all for us.
On this long car drive across the Pennsylvania Turnpike I continued to think about how I can help other families return to the observance of this important holiday instead of making it easier for us to be distracted from the meaning of the day. Congress made Memorial Day into a mandatory three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971.
What I believe is needed is a return to the original day of observance May 30th. Set aside this one day out of the year for the nation to get together to reflect and remember. In our communities we can maintain and decorate the graves of the fallen and truly observe this important day.
Let's not forget, especially as Pennsylvanians', about Boalsburg, PA ; the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Gone but not forgotten.