By Steven Avila |Staff Writer|
Memorial Day is here and typically most of us think of family, shopping, barbecue and a well-deserved day off work or school.
These are all great things, but these days, we would do well to remember just what the day really means.
It’s more than a holiday and the start of the summer season.
Last year President Barack Obama, as reported by the Associated Press, said it was about remembering the sacrifice of soldiers that “led a ragtag militia to face British soldiers at Lexington and Concord.”
“It’s what led patriots in each generation to sacrifice their own lives, to secure the life of our nation, from the trenches of World War I to the battles of World War II, from Inchon and Khe Sanh, from Mosul to Marjah,” concluded Obama.
For us college students the days just seem to fly by with all the ridiculous amounts of work we have to do. So when a day like Memorial Day comes up, a lot of us are just concerned with the fact that we get an extended weekend.
I’m not excluding myself from this group.
Like most, I don’t really take the time to remember and understand what a given holiday is truly about.
It’s not that we simply don’t care about these things, it’s just that in many ways we’ve become desensitized through TV screens and social networks.
That, however, needs to come to an end for myself and all of us.
When we don’t make an effort to remember those who have fallen in the service of our nation, we run the risk of forgetting our collective past, if we ever knew it all.
Take me, for example. Ever since my childhood I knew my grandfather and his brother were in the Army but I didn’t bother with details.
Imagine my surprise a few years ago, when his brother passed away, to find out that he was part of the legendary Normandy Invasion of World War II.
No one ever told me that over family dinner.
He did not die during his service; he was one of the lucky ones.
The point is thousands like him have perished in the midst of combat, fighting for our freedoms and the freedoms of others.
That includes the current generation.
Many thousands of American soldiers have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years. Maybe you’re not always an overly patriotic person. Maybe you don’t always agree with the wars we’re in.
There’s no shame in that. I certainly fall into that category.
However, we must understand that every person that we lose in the fight was once someone’s sibling, child, friend, parent or all of the above.
So what do we do to honor them?
We remember them. It won’t kill us to take some time out of our holidays to think of them, to salute them and pass on their legacy to those who will listen.
Perhaps more importantly, we honor them by putting aside the barbecue, the shopping and the Indy 500 for a few minutes to be proud of them.
Maybe you’ll be like me. Maybe you’ll discover something about a relative or friend you didn’t know, and then maybe we can all gain a little more appreciation for what they have truly given to us and what they will give to our future generations.