As a child Memorial Day always meant I would be going to a backyard BBQ, one hopefully at “The” family members house who had a pool. As I grew older, able to enjoy the latitudes afforded by a driver’s license, disposable income, and adulthood my perception of Memorial Day changed. It grew to mean three-day weekends, road trips to the river, and the beginning of Summer.
The meaning of Memorial Day for me has changed once again. Since I began my work at Advetage Solutions, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, I have been given the opportunity to not only work for and with veterans but also support veteran establishments including but not limited to the Department of Veterans Affairs. I was encouraged by Justin Kungvanwong the founder of Advetage Solutions to reevaluate my perception of what Memorial Day represents. I would like to share what I learned.
On the historical side I learned dating back to May 5th, 1868, three years after the Civil War concluded, the head of the organization of Union veterans (the Grand Army of the Republic) established Decoration Day as an official day in which flowers were to be laid upon the resting place of fallen soldiers. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, placing it as the last Monday in May (when flowers are in bloom).
It was what I learned outside of trivial answers to questions on Jeopardy about Memorial Day’s history which affected my perception in a manner that I am going to fail horribly in my attempt to transcribe emotions and feelings to the written word.
“If I don’t come home, it’s because I did my job”
Memorial Day is a day to remember what it means to be a hero. You do not need to know a combat veteran personally who has given the ultimate sacrifice to this country to appreciate that veteran. Give thanks to those heroes who gave everything not just for the soldiers serving next to them and the people they left home but also YOU. My appreciation of Memorial Day no longer is relegated to an extra day off work but an acknowledgement of what fallen soldiers who have never met me sacrificed for my freedoms.