Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Is Not Just For Picnics and BBQ's

When I was a little girl growing up in a suburb of Chicago, holidays were community events. On Memorial Day there was always a parade with marching bands, children with bicycles decorated in crepe paper streamers, convertibles with local officials and small-town celebrities sitting up on the backs, and also marching were members of the American Legion and the VFW. There would also be a clown in a tiny little car, and the local grocery store owner dressed in a black suit and derby hat rode a bicycle that had a huge front wheel (he had to stand on a ladder to get on the bicycle). The parade route ended at a park where a memorial had been erected for those servicemen who had served their country and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. There, wreaths were laid, prayers were said, and speeches were given. My brother was in the Navy, and while he was serving there was a small flag with a colored star that hung in our living room window indicating that a serviceman lived there. When my brother was killed at a very young age, the flag changed and there was a gold star indicating that the serviceman who lived there had lost his life. Over the years things changed, and for many people Memorial Day became just a day off of school and work. A day to visit Home Depot and start house projects. A day to celebrate with friends and family at a picnic or backyard BBQ. I moved away from that suburb many years ago, but if I could I would go back for Memorial Day and hope they still have a parade to honor those men and women who serve our country, who protect us all, who suffer horrible injuries, and those who give their lives in service. I hear alot about gang wars and the escalating problems with gangs in cities and towns. I cannot help but think that those kids who think they are tough and fearless should all be drafted into the service to find out what the words tough and fearless really mean. Gang members are not tough, but rather they are bullies and insecure boys who live in prisons of their own making before they end up dead or in the real prisons. We honor celebrities who behave badly, we laud athletes who behave like pigs, and yet we fail to consistently honor the servicemen and women who are the true heroes. I hope you will bring up your children to distinguish between people who are worthy of their admiration and people who are not. Take your little ones to a Memorial Day celebration and explain to them why we must never forget those who served and those who continue to serve for they are deserving of admiration, respect and unending gratitude.

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