Celebrating Memorial Day for what it isI’m an advocate for Memorial Day--the REAL Memorial Day.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
I’m an advocate for Memorial Day.
Most people are, of course, because most people get that day off work. It’s a free day, a way to extend the weekend, to squeeze in a family outing or a pre-season camping trip.
But that’s not why I advocate for it. I like to remember what Memorial Day is really all about: the service people who have served our country through the decades.
War has never been “popular,” but it was probably more politically acceptable years ago. Now, I think, in an effort to support peace efforts and to avoid looking like a blood-thirsty hawk, people neglect to remember. They fail to realize that honoring those in the military isn’t glorifying war. Instead, it’s recognizing those who, for whatever reason, have committed their lives to being on the front line when they’re needed.
Unfortunately, they’re needed more often than we’d like. I’m not sure I’d have that kind of courage.
I know others who did, though. My grandfather served in the Swedish Army, and then fought in the U.S. Army during WWI. My father was in the Air Force during WWII. My cousin Ronnie was a Navy corpsman who served with the Marines in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart.
My friend served many years in the military, and now his 17-year-old daughter, who just graduated from basic training, is slugging it out in advanced infantry training.
“Aren’t you nervous?” I asked her one day. She wasn’t even out of high school, but was looking forward to joining up as soon as she was of age.
“I’m looking forward to serving my country as a soldier,” she said.
She stood there unflinching, blond, petite, weighing not much over 100 pounds. And then she followed through with her plans, and although I know she’s probably been homesick, exhausted and challenged by soldiers older than she, I also know she’ll persevere because she believes in what she’s doing and she wants to serve.
At 17. Amazing.
So, on Memorial Day I might go on a picnic. I’ll certainly enjoy a day off. But I’ll also attend the service at the high school and allow myself to be moved by the music and roused by the speaker. I’ll do it for Grandpa and Dad, for Ronnie and Kass—and for all the men and women who ever have and ever will say yes to one of the hardest jobs there is.