I’d like to share some words from my heart today as I reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who have served in our military. I hope these words are received with the best intentions.
Honor the Fallen
Memorial Day is about honoring the men and women who gave their lives while serving to protect our freedom. The beer brand we hail on this day didn’t make the ultimate sacrifice for you to live as you want to live; it was earned by military veterans who laid down their life for you.
While Memorial Day might include gatherings of friends and family enjoying burgers or a fun trip to the lake, the idea behind this holiday is not and should not be centered on commercialism. There’s nothing wrong with having a great time and enjoying life. We just need to remember that the life we enjoy today was paid for with a high price.
It bothers me how honoring the fallen is often overshadowed by Memorial Day commercialism. It pains me to see veteran’s graves left unattended with no flag placed in memory of their service. It destroys me that people care more about Instagram changing their logo than how many veterans die every day so that we can enjoy our freedom.
Perhaps I’m oversensitive because of my own military experience. Maybe I’m upset because I have friends and family who have endured the hardship of war. I just believe the central focus on Memorial Day should be honoring the fallen and having a time of reverence for our heroes.
Americans Could Learn from The Dutch
My grandparents were from the Netherlands and endured the horrific pain of World War II. They experienced the atrocities the Nazis afflicted on the Dutch people and the Allies firsthand. They watched as friends were shot in the head and townspeople were skinned alive for not supporting the Führer. They risked their own lives daily as my grandfather hid Jewish people, rescued Allied spies, and transported weapons for the Dutch Resistance. And they were forever grateful when they were liberated by the 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne in September of 1944.
The Dutch people remember the sacrifices that were made.
Every year, Dutch families honor the fallen by taking care of the graves of American, Canadian, and British soldiers who died 72 years ago trying to liberate their country. Flags and flowers are placed throughout the entire cemetery and ceremonies are conducted to remember the heroes. These kind acts are done with a deep and sincere gratitude. The Dutch people consider it an honor to take care of these graves.
It would be awesome if America expressed the same gratitude and reverence by ensuring our fallen heroes are honored on Memorial Day. Maybe it’s more difficult for us as a nation because we’ve not experienced war on our soil like the people of Europe. Yet I don’t believe we should have to endure the hardship of war or oppression to appreciate the sacrifices our veterans have made.
What More Can We Do to Honor the Fallen?
Overall, our country is very patriotic and our nation does a wonderful job of showing their support of our military veterans. For that I am very grateful. However I also feel that more could be done to honor the fallen and to remember those who are still alive.
Adopt a Veteran’s Grave
In the cemetery where my dad is buried, there are plenty of veteran’s graves that never have an American Flag or flowers on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. You or your family could “adopt a grave” and go out two times per year to ensure the veteran is properly honored and not forgotten.
Attend a Memorial Day Ceremony
As our WWII Veterans pass away and our Korean and Vietnam Veterans reach their golden years, we need a younger generation who will take the baton and ensure these events continue on. Attend Memorial Day ceremonies to honor the fallen or show your support by volunteering to organize an event or help out at one.
Donate to Organizations Who Honor the Fallen
The Boy Scouts of America and other non-profit organizations often conduct ceremonies or place flags on the graves of U.S. Military Veterans. If you are not able to visit a cemetery or attend a ceremony yourself, consider donating to organizations who offer these services. Happy Joe will launch our own program by Veterans Day to ensure community groups have American Flags to honor the fallen.
Give a Moment of Silence
Whether you are alone or with a group of people, taking a few minutes of silence to reflect on the freedom you have and the price that was paid for it, is a simple and meaningful way to honor our veterans.
We have been extremely blessed to enjoy amazing freedoms in the United States. I want everyone to have an incredible three day weekend filled with fun, friends, and family. And I also want us to never forget the men and women who have perished protecting our freedom. That’s what Memorial Day is really about.
Thank you to my brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate sacrifice. You will never be forgotten!