When I think about Memorial Day, I can’t help but remember a quote I once read:
“It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.” -Ronald Reagan
For veterans, Memorial Day means something a little different. It isn’t a celebration, but rather a holy day. It’s a day where we look back on some of the toughest times we’ve ever endured and remember those who didn’t come home with us. It’s a battle in its own right, you see, because in remembering, we are reliving those nightmares. It’s a burden we gladly shoulder, however, because we made a promise long ago to those who sacrificed all. We promised to never forget.
During this weekend, more than others, you’ll see full shot glasses and beers sitting at empty seats at the bar. You’ll see tattooed and bearded warriors hunched with tears threatening to fall at any second. You’ll see things you don’t understand, but try to get the sentiment. That sentiment is loss.
So many good men and women have given their lives willingly to protect this great nation. So many have crossed an ocean not knowing their future, only to never see their loved ones again. The memories seem like it only happened yesterday to those who had the fortune of fighting next to those heroes.
Every year since she’s had the title, and possibly even a couple years before that, my sister-in-law messages me on Memorial Day. Her messages are heartfelt and straight to the point and usually begin, “I know it isn’t “Happy” Memorial Day, but I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and the brothers you lost…”. And every year, this message touches me in a profound way.
Go out on the boat, have a cookout, get hammered and enjoy your Monday off recuperating. All of that is fine. In fact, I spend most Memorial Days trying to do the same things. But every year, when I receive my sister’s message, it reminds me that there are Americans out there who remember why they’re able to enjoy those things this weekend.
And that’s all I am asking. This weekend, in the midst of your fun, please remember the day and take a moment to reflect on the lives lost for this Nation. Then, go back to partying your ass off or whatever it is you are doing.
And then do the same thing next weekend. And the one after. Memorial Day is a great reminder of history and sacrifice, but those sacrifices deserve to be remembered more than one weekend a year.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
The Good Men Project is an Amazon.com affiliate. If you shop via THIS LINK, we will get a small commission and you will be supporting our Mission while still getting the quality products you would have purchased, anyway! Thank you for your continued support!
Photo credit: Getty Images