THE BLOG
05/31/2016 12:47 pm ET Updated May 29, 2017

What Is Memorial Day?

Baby Boomers,

I hope you all are having a fantastic Memorial Day weekend.

If you watched any television so far, you saw that there are hundreds of ways and a hundred different reasons to celebrate over the weekend.

You have to love these 3 day weekends right?

So how do you celebrate the Memorial Day holiday?

Do you have a big backyard bar-b-que with your family and friends? Attend a ballgame? Maybe, you head to the coast for some fun & sun on the beach?

Do you watch old John Wayne movies? Do you celebrate the beginning of summer? Buy a new car or maybe some new furniture?

Do you catch up on some yard work or tackle that huge outdoor project that you have been thinking about?

Was Memorial Day even on your mind while you were planning the weekend?

Let me ask you this.....Do you really know why we celebrate "Memorial Day" in the U.S.?

To commemorate the start of Summer? To hold some of the biggest car and furniture sales of the year? Nope.

Something to do with veterans and war and freedom right?

Well, you are on the right track anyway.

Beginning somewhere in the early 70's, the Memorial Day holiday was conveniently established to be officially observed on the last Monday in May.

As part of this accommodating action, it soon lost it's true meaning and became known as the unofficial start of the summer replete with three day trips to the beach, sunburns, barbecues, blockbuster movie openings and car and mattress sales.

It has merely become another reason to fly the flag and use red, white and blue napkins at our bar-b-que.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has faded over the years. Many Americans have forgotten its meaning and traditions. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored if not neglected. Most people no longer remember to fly the flag at half-staff for the day.

Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day.

No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.

Some of us current Baby Boomers never had to feel the pain or honor of being enlisted and serving for our country. We fell between armed conflicts.

A lottery drawing - the first since 1942 - was begun on December 1, 1969, at Selective Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This new system determined the order of call for induction during the following calendar year.

In 1974, the year I was first eligible for the draft, the lottery was ended and the U.S. converted to an all-volunteer military.

Although I was never in the military that doesn't mean I wasn't touched by the service and sacrifice of others.

My older brother, Steve fought in Viet Nam.

My Dad John, my Uncle Wally and their closest friends fought in World War II.

I understood the commitment of their personal service.

I remember the fear of living through the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the genesis of a nuclear retaliation world.

Serving your country, going to war, being a patriot, flying the American flag and standing with your hand over your heart during the National Anthem has always meant something compelling to me.

Three day holiday weekends aren't bad in themselves.

Maybe we use the fun and family gatherings as a way to keep the suffering and death endured by others in maintaining our freedoms out of our thoughts as much as possible.

It's more fun concentrating on the start of summer or picnics or something else.

If that's the case, then there is nothing wrong with that.

But let's not forget to take a personal moment to remember the heroes. That doesn't have to be done in the course of a three day weekend. It can be done anytime. It can even be done today.
Picture
Next time you meet a veteran, shake their hand and Thank them for their service.

Go out and buy something that you know a current soldier would really like ( grooming items, books, cell phones, popcorn, clean freaking underwear) to have as he fights in the deserts of the Middle east and donate it to "Packages from Home".

Stand up and cheer at sporting events when service people are recognized and maybe buy one a beer.

At the very least, every so often just stop for a minute and appreciate your freedoms and remember why you have them.

More than a million American fighting men and women have given, as Lincoln termed it at Gettysburg, "their last full measure of devotion to their families, friends and country."

Their valor and sacrifice made possible our freedoms, our values and our very existence.

Memorial Day should be a time of solemn reflection on some of the most sacred of human ideals: faith, family, duty, commitment, heroism and honor.

We are so profoundly indebted to all those who have served and have given their lives defending us.

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. -- George S. Patton