In a recent Bottom Line article, Amelia shared her excitement of participating in a Memorial Day parade by marching down the sidewalk snapping photos. What an uplifting article!
Her perspective gave me hope that my observations at our local Memorial celebration do not, perhaps, indicate the national trend I suspected.
Following our small town parade there is a ceremony to honor our service men and women. Held at the same time and in the same place every year, the format hasn’t changed much from when I was a Brownie walking with the parade over 40 years ago. I did notice a distinct difference though.
The usual elements of a small town parade were there: the band, the floats, little league teams, and fire trucks. There was also a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. The parade was not as long; the participants are declining. The streets are not lined the way the used to be.
I watched with disappointment as some of the spectators folded up their chairs and left as soon as the parade came to an end. They walked away even as the ceremony honoring our fallen heroes was just beginning.
They had their reasons for not staying. They may have had places to be, people to see, burgers to grill, yard work or planting to get done. It could have been anything–or nothing.
Have we become ashamed to show patriotism?
It may depend on where one lives and whether or not one was raised to appreciate our military and our freedom they protect. I wonder, however, if most of the holidays established to celebrate our heroes and our country have not been reduced to nothing more than picnics and parties. Have burgers and hot dogs replaced flags and memorials? Do we now ignore their sacrifices and hold “sacred” the three-day weekend?
While we enjoyed the freedom to gather with family and friends for cookouts, did we soberly consider the sacrifices that were made to give us our freedom?
Did we think about the men and women we are supposed to be honoring as we squeezed the ketchup on our hot dog, spooned potato salad onto our plate and grabbed our beverage from the cooler?
“Be strong, and let us fight bravely for the sake of our people and the cities of our True God, and may the Eternal do what seems good in His sight.” (2 Samuel 10:12, The Voice)
Memorial Day is to honor those who fought bravely. Some did not return home. Others returned home with battlefield scars. Their bodies may reveal the physical challenges they face daily. Loss of limbs and senses, facing disfigurement and mobility limitations are just a few.
Some may bear the scars caused by what they’ve witnessed or experienced first-hand. These hidden, emotional scars may haunt them and carry a particular kind of pain. These type of scars can affect their relationships and their ability to return to “normal” life.
We should not honor our brave warriors with just parades and ceremonies, and half-hearted enthusiasm. We as a nation, owe them an immeasurable debt for their sacrifices.
One way we can honor them is by insisting that our government properly compensate them and meet their needs upon their return. It appears that some of our elected officials allocate funds to those who have come here to take from our country illegally.
Until every person serving in our military is honored with respect, adequate compensation, and with timely and proper medical and psychological care, it should not be offered to others. We are indebted to those who have helped to make this the greatest nation on the planet.
God has blessed us beyond measure. May we, as a nation, never turn from Him or abandon His commands.
“He’s declared that He’ll lift you up high above all the other nations He’s made. You’ll be praised, renowned, and honored. You also will be a people who are set apart for the Eternal your God, just as He said.” (Deuteronomy 26:19, The Voice)
Do you think patriotism is outdated? How did you celebrate Memorial Day?