2021 Memorial Day
One of my childhood memories is visiting Washington D.C. on Memorial Day in 1976. The day started before sunrise as three generations of my family gathered together. With deep and very proud roots in the United States Navy, Memorial Day for us was truly a day of remembrance.
On this day, at the dawn’s early light, the flag at the base of the Washington Monument was raised quickly to full staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff. The hush and thoughtfulness of the faces surrounded myself and other younger family members in attendance, communicated that this was not the time to be our fidgety, impish selves, but a time to be respectful, although we didn’t fully understand the meaningfulness of the flag raising and lowering.
At noon, we watched the flag being raised to full-staff. My Great-uncle, a decorated World War 2 veteran, explained to me, my siblings, and cousins that the flag was flown at half-staff in remembrance of those who died for our country. He explained that raising the flag to full staff was the symbol that the memory of fallen soldiers is being raised by the living. Their sacrifice was not in vain, and we rise-up in their honor and continue their fight for liberty and justice.
My sister and many of my cousins who shared the experience of this Memorial Day family gathering, grew up to serve in our Armed Forces. I am truly grateful for their service.
Forty-five million men and women have served in the United States Armed Forces during a time of war. One and a half million men and women are actively serving our country today. There are almost 19 million veterans living in the United States.
As COVID-19 restrictions are becoming less tight, many of us can once again gather with family members to commemorate Memorial Day with a parade, a service, a barbecue, or a moment of silence. It is a day to be grateful and a special time to honor America’s history and commemorate the bravery, courage and honor of our troops.
To those in uniform serving today, to those who have served in the past and those who have fallen for our freedom, we honor you this Memorial Day and every day.