With the increasingly warm temperatures, most think of the Memorial Holiday as the beginning of the summer fun, but fail to take time to remember the intended prupose of the holiday.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War
While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
Among my fondest childhood memories are those of stories my late grandparents told, including the hardships my grandfather endured serving in the Pacific Islands in World War II. As sad as many were, they were intriquing and built within me a huge respect and reverence not only for him, but also all men and women who have served this great country.
As I drive by the flower laden cemeteries days after casting flowers upon my family graves on Memorial Day, I fondly recall those memories and the many ways they affectd my life and the person I have became.
It is with great sadness that I see today's youth as not remembering these stories or having grandparents who were part of their lives to tell them the stories that attribute to many American's sense of patriotism and pride in their country.
The bittersweet memories are often clouded as I dread seeing future Memorial Days when few come out and decorated the graves of those who have gone on and the respect once shared slowly dies.
As parents, it is our duty to keep these memories alive all year, not just on holidays like Memorial Day. By letting our children know how lucky they truly are to live in the country where their freedoms are so often taken for granted.
By not raising a generation of "entitled" children, we can effectively honor the memory of our forefathers. While most of Generation Y will not recall the stories of War veterans in the same way as other generations, but teaching chiildren the importance of the holiday and that is isn't just a day to drag out the ski boat and head for the lake for the seasons first hot dogs and watermelon, we are preserving our heritage and giving our children a glimpse into the past, that they will hopefully, someday pass to their children.
So decorate the cemetaries, but while doing so, take a child and let them know just how lucky they are to live in the world they do today. Happy Memorial Day to everyone.