As I was leaving the arena on Friday, a couple of my students yelled out "Happy Memorial Day!" I waved and answered in kind, but as I got into my car and thought about why we Americans have a Memorial Day in the first place, I began to feel a little weirded out by the wording. Don't get me wrong -- I'm both proud and touched we've designated a specific day to honor those who have fallen to protect our country and its allies.
I'm just a little iffy on being "happy" about it.
South-Central Texas is deep in military country, so just about everyone I know either has someone in the military or knows someone who's serving. For a lot of people here, Memorial Day isn't just an opportunity to watch some Indy car racing during a three-day weekend, or a chance to plop your face into a batch of barbecued ribs cooked out by the pool. It's a time to remember those who have given their lives to protect our way of life. There are so many -- too many -- who must wince when they hear "happy" Memorial Day.
Don't worry -- I'm not going to get all melodramatic or preachy. I just wanted to express how grateful I am to those who serve and make the ultimate sacrifice. The truth is, I am not happy there is a need for a Memorial Day -- no one is. But I am touched, and proud, and awestruck by the unbelievable sacrifices our men and women in uniform make every single day to keep our world safe. So thank you to our fallen, thank you to their families who sacrifice just as much, and thank you to those who continue to fight. You are not forgotten.
Have a safe Memorial Day, everyone. :)