Memorial Day is more than just a day off. More than the first unofficial day of summer or the first holiday after New Year’s, it is a day where its meaning is often lost in the midst of picnics and barbecue cookouts.
For many people, especially those who have a connection, past or present, with our US Armed Forces, it is a day mixed with celebration and sobering remembrance. The day marks a tribute to those persons who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, for the freedoms that the United States of America stand for. As for me, while I did not serve in the US Armed Forces, I cannot begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for those who have served, and for the veterans who gave of themselves proudly for our country.
Our country, our flag, our nation, more than anywhere else in the world, represents freedom. Even as our country groaned through its early growing pains with slavery, the Reconstruction, the Industrial Age and, even more recently, the Civil Rights Movement, there is no other country, as a Black American, where I would rather be. The United States represents the model of freedom for the entire world. Our freedom is worth defending and upholding, because there is no better alternative. We have freedom to speak, freedom to worship, freedom to vote, freedom to protest…all under the umbrella of our rights as Americans. Yes, true freedom has its ups and downs, but it is never to be trumped by arguments or disagreements. Freedom allows all of us, after all is said and done, to peacefully and respectfully, agree to disagree. Freedom is not something that is to be taken lightly, or even to be spoken of in a passive voice. We owe those who represent our country a great debt for protecting these rights. It was worth fighting for during World War I and World War II, and it still is today, even as we fight the wars on crime and terrorism.
Memorial Day is more than just a day off. It is a day of appreciation for what we have as Americans, for who we are as Americans, and, for our dedicated soldiers and public servants who defend and protect us.
I pray that you have a safe, peaceful and restful Memorial Day.