For most people, Memorial Day is the traditional day that summer begins. Most people fire up their outdoor grills, concoct traditional summer foods for their families and friends to enjoy, and take part in parades.
But Memorial Day also has a different purpose: to remember and honor the men and women who died while they served in various branches of the military.
Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future. – Elie Wiesel, Romanian-American writer and philosopher
It’s Vital to Honor All Servicemembers
Around Memorial Day, some people take the trouble to visit military cemeteries and place flags on the graves of their family and friends who were servicemembers killed in action. Even if you don’t know of a servicemember to commemorate, Memorial Day is a good time to educate yourself about various groups who helped the war effort, such as:
- The Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black pilots who served as an escort for other fighters
- The Navajo Code Talkers, who used their language to create an unbreakable code to send messages in the Pacific theater during WWII
- The Nisei soldiers, Japanese-American soldiers who served in the military
- The Ghost Army, a tactical deception unit that helped the U.S. Army
- The Code Girls, a set of code breakers who deciphered codes for the U.S. military
Remember That Memorial Day Is Coming Up Soon
Honoring all servicemembers and veterans is a way for us to express gratitude for their sacrifices. It can also inspire a new generation to follow in their footsteps.
The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it. – Thucydides, Greek historian and general
This Memorial Day, please take some time to think about those servicemembers and their families who have made sacrifices so that the rest of us can enjoy our freedom. Read a book or look up someone in the Veterans History Project from the Library of Congress to hear their war experiences.
Related link: Military Appreciation Month: A Time to Honor Servicemembers
Also, consider if you can help a veteran or a military family this Memorial Day. That help might involve taking someone to a VA hospital, inviting a military family to a picnic, conducting repairs to a home when a servicemember is away on deployment or just listening when someone needs to talk.