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Memorial Day is a holiday that sees most people get the day off from work and school, which is reserved for summertime feasts. In fact, I always thought that Memorial Day was the true “unofficial” beginning of summer as it usually coincided with beautiful weather and a preview of what little I would do.
But as you get older, and you start seeing some of your friends from high school enter the military; you gain a more reflective view of Memorial Day. It no longer exclusively means a day off nor does it really signify “happiness” which always rubbed me the wrong way when people said “Happy Memorial Day” as if today is something to be proud of.
Our country might even be a little desensitized to remembrance as we have both Veterans and Memorial Day. Sometimes the lines get crossed and that even happens on the Fourth of July. Of course you should always pay respects to those who have perished or to those who have served and continue to do so.
But remember today. For people who are my age, put today into more perspective. We didn’t have Vietnam or WWII nor have we lived in a country that experienced a draft. Without a military draft, we have a bit of a gap between our citizens and our military. No, I am not advocating for one (far from it); but days like today do not always feel the same to our generation even though we have had two notable wars.
Still, when thinking of today; think of those from Afghanistan and Iraq who are no longer here, whose families have empty seats at the table. As someone who is anti-war in most cases, I tend to see the wars as something to disagree with as opposed to thinking about. I remember being 12-14 years old and being paralyzed at the thought of entering the service if a military draft was reinstated.
The idea of jumping into war is scary and even though I’m clearly on the sidelines, I have come to grips about how brave it truly is to enter the military. You are doing something in which you get killed over and for what cause? You are making one of the most ultimate sacrifices, minimal contact with the world you grew up in and away from those you love.
We should always ask ourselves how we can avoid war. We should always give respect to diplomacy and to sanctions. But we should never forget those who voluntarily choose to serve. We should especially not forget those who are no longer with us though, that is what today is for.
Remembering those who should be here.