Once again we get to enjoy a Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. Most of us have plans of relaxing and barbecue with family and friends. But we really need to remember why we have this holiday.
Memorial Day has its roots in the Civil War. The latest estimates of soldiers killed in this war is 750.000. This is more than all other American wars combined. This was just over 2 percent of the population! In terms of today’s population, it would be 6 to 7 million people lost.
Many towns claim to have started this holiday, but what really matters is that people across the country saw the need to reflect and remember–so the nation created it. I just learned that over half of the Civil War dead were never identified. There were no dog tags or any way of official notification of family. So we came to feel a shared sense of loss and the dead now belonged to everyone as so many could not belong to just anyone.
It became important to the nation’s process of mourning to bring dignity to these lost souls. Death without dignity was not acceptable to our countrymen. It helped to some way ratify now important the courage and sacrifice had been to now take a moment of reflection so the healing could begin for our country. Perhaps we all should take a moment to think what it meant to be an American back then, and what so many sacrificed for the good of the nation.
The Civil War has long passed, but wars have not. We continue to have every generation sacrifice some of its best to preserve our way of life. We must never forget those who have served and those who serve us now.
Freedom is not free.