Memorial Day more than a vacation
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. Families across this great state will fire up the grill; a summer blockbuster will open at the theaters; and the local mall will be filled with shoppers taking advantage of the sale prices. It is a day off work for many Americans, many of whom have forgotten the meaning behind Memorial Day.
I ask every Michiganian to take a moment away from their activities to think about the real meaning of this day. It is a day to honor the memories of the thousands of men and women of our armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is a day rooted deep in our history.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers who died to preserve the Union. It was a day to decorate with flowers the graves of the brave men who answered their nation's call at its most desperate hour. As years passed, people began to question the need for this day of memorial.
Oliver Wendell Holmes put those questions to rest in a Memorial Day address in 1884. He spoke of a soldier's commitment when he said, "To fight a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to forsee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. One may fall, at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory."
Holmes was talking about honoring the fallen heroes of the Civil War, but his words resonate even today. Memorial Day is a reminder to us all that our rights and freedoms were earned and protected by men and women who put country ahead of self.
We can hang a flag on our porch or display a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker on our truck, but how many of us will follow in their path and serve? How many of us are willing to give everything they have to defend our nation?
The job of a soldier, Marine, sailor or an airman is not an easy one. It is a life of honor and duty. If you have the chance to go to a cemetery this Memorial Day and gaze upon the field of American flags, take note that each one of them stands for a hero who protected our lives and our freedom at the cost of their own.
The tributes from a grateful nation will never equal the tremendous price these heroes have paid. But on this Memorial Day, we will try our best to repay that debt by remembering their sacrifices. That much we owe them. God Bless.
State Senator - Monroe
Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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