This Memorial Day essay comes to us from Flight Journal editor-in-chief Budd Davisson.
This is going to sound trite, because it IS trite. It is me, representing the old fashioned, hardcore America, once again reminding the Nation that Memorial Day is not about hot dogs, baseball games, or making cannonball splashes in the pool. Memorial Day is about white stone monuments reaching to the horizon. Each with a small American flag, waving over them. It is about remembering what lies under each.
Memorial Day is about names on a black stone wall, gray-headed men leaning against it, their fingers tracing a familiar name, their tears streaking the wall.
Memorial Day is reaching up on the mantel and bringing down a fading black and white picture of a man we would have known as Granddad, had he made it across the beach at Normandy. Or the blaze hadn’t gotten to him before he was able to parachute clear of his burning craft.
Memorial Day is about the last notes of “Taps” echoing off the trees on the far side of a cemetery as we stand, heads bowed, and we make no attempt to stop our own tears from flowing. If we aren’t crying, we aren’t remembering.
This day is about remembering who made us what we are. Remembering who gave us our freedom. It is about re-dedicating ourselves to the ideals for which so many thousands of very young men have shed their blood to preserve.
Memorial Day should be a period of time where we stand still for just as few moments to look around and remember that who, and what, we once were, we can be again. It is us making a firm decision that we aren’t going to let all of those sacrifices be in vain. They fought for our freedom and we will fight our way through any obstacle to preserve what they have given us. Nothing will stop us from being the Americans so many young men and women thought we were when, with their dying breath, they remembered why they were there. We can’t, and we won’t, let them down.
Memorial Day is about remembering. And honoring. Period.