Let’s not forget the meaning of Memorial Day | Opinion

With Memorial Day fast approaching, I find myself thinking, reflecting, remembering the meaning of this special day. Whatever our political views, opinions or thoughts concerning current government officials, or issues at-hand may be, it’s important we continue to remember our veterans and honor them for their service.

Memorial Day is more than the unofficial start of summer. Memorial Day is the day we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of all men and women, who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn a uniform representing the United States of America.

From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe, to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq, to the mountains of Afghanistan, these brave patriots have protected our Nation’s principles, rescued millions from oppression, and helped spread freedom around the globe.

America’s veterans answered the call when asked to protect our Nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless dictators, terrorists and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our country to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of our Armed Forces have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

As Americans, we are forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom’s defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. We remember these heroes for their loyalty, and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

While many of the traditional Memorial Day celebrations have declined in some areas, they prevail at Arlington National Cemetery. Since the 1950s, on the Thursday preceding Memorial Day, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division have placed American flags at each of the graves there, totaling more than 260,000. During the entire weekend, they patrol around the clock, making sure each flag remains fixed in place. On the actual holiday, approximately 5,000 people come to hear the President or Vice President give a speech and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a period of one minute. This time was chosen because it’s a time most Americans would be out and about enjoying the holiday. It’s not intended to replace other Memorial Day traditions, rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans honor those who died in service to our country. Several organizations throughout the country also observe the Moment — for instance, all Major League Baseball games stop for a moment of silence, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. pauses, just to name a few.

It is my belief showing respect for our flag and country is taking the first step toward respecting everyone who ever put on a uniform. I also believe our kids get stronger messages by watching what we do more so than listening to the words we speak. Therefore, many times they learn these values through watching us.

I whole-heartedly believe we each have a responsibility to help teach our young people about patriotism and respect for our country, our flag, and our veterans. I believe most families would be hard-pressed not to find a veteran somewhere in their family tree, therefore, our patriotic holidays are great opportunities for all of us to be reminded what a sacrifice our veterans have made, and also help teach the younger generations in the process.

After all, America is the home of the free, because of the brave.