Grave sites are going to be decorated with flowers. Americans will flock to cemeteries to pay their respects to their loved ones.
These are special loved ones, though. They are Americans who died in battle. They died protecting the rest of us. They gave their “last full measure of devotion” to the nation they loved.
We set aside this time each year to pay tribute to these Americans. It’s Memorial Day, everyone!
It’s no secret that not that long ago, Americans didn’t always respond with love and affection for its veterans, let alone those who fell in battle. Just a couple of generations back, American servicemen and women returned home from Vietnam. At the very least they were greeted with what I have defined as raging indifference; the worst of those times came in the form of outright rage at young Americans who did their duty by fighting halfway around the world.
You’ve heard the stories about spitting on returning servicemen. Perhaps you were a party — in one form or another — to that kind of shameful conduct.
Those who didn’t make it home from the Vietnam War? Well, we didn’t honor their sacrifice — or the pain and grief their loved ones endured — with anything approaching the kind of love that pours forth today.
I am glad to see the nation’s attitude change. I am gratified at the maturing that occurred in this country. We weren’t used to armed conflicts ending the way the Vietnam War did, nor were we used to the domestic tumult and turmoil that preceded the end of hostilities.
Thousands more young Americans have given their lives since those dark days. These days we honor them, just as we give thanks to those who have come home, those who returned to their lives on the “outside.”
That’s how it should be. It is how it always should have been.
Memorial Day is the time we call extra attention to those grave sites and the names inscribed on them. They represent the best of a great country. We honor them.
We should thank them daily for the sacrifice they have made to keep the rest of us free.