Memorial Day loses its meaning in many ways, as it should never be wished as a "Happy Memorial Day," though someone surely will say that during the weekend.
Memorial Day is about commemoration of sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers and airmen and sailors and the Coast Guard. It's a remembrance of neighbors and friends and family members who preserved our ability to enjoy the freedom we still have in the United States, despite attacks on the streets by terrorists and pressure abroad to both be the world's leader and not to be so involved in the daily lives of other nations.
A good way to remember what Memorial Day is about is to take the time to attend one of the many services being held throughout the long weekend. Communities large and small have organizers and groups that take the time to make sure everyone recalls the sacrifice. These services honor the dead of generations past and show support to those still displaying extreme courage in defending the nation against its enemies.
As the nation continues to lose members of the generation that fought to earn the nation's greatest victory, in World War II, Memorial Day should be especially poignant.
"In Flanders Fields" will be read at those ceremonies, and its words echo from the World War I generation, now lost to time. The poem, by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, was written May 3, 1915, after the soldier saw a friend die on the field of battle the day before.
It summarizes the feelings of the soldier who died, of all soldiers who died. It exhorts the living to take up the quarrel with the foe and keep the faith with those who died in battle.
"To you from failing hands, we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high."
Attend a local memorial service, and listen intently to the words of the soldiers and leaders who speak. The words should touch the very American part of your soul, and push you to continue to keep honor and memory of these brave men and women in your hearts, your thoughts and prayers, and never to give up the cause, which would leave their deaths as mere battlefield statistics.
Say thank you to the living veterans for their service, to active service personnel for continuing the fight, and thus hold the fallen's torch high.