Memorial Day FlagsIt’s Memorial Day. Time for cookouts and picnics and visiting with friends and family. Time to break out the garden hose, or the blow-up pools for the kids (and the big kids). Time to get to the beach (or “down the shore” if you’re from New Jersey) and work on that golden tan. It’s Memorial Day and the start of the Summer season. Or is it?

It’s Memorial Day. A day of remembering. According to

Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.

To me, it seems we’ve lost the idea (the heart) of Memorial Day. Yes, it was always connected with those who’ve fought for this country (and those who are currently fighting for this country). I remember when I was very small, going to the Memorial Day parade. The crowds were thick with lots of people who were there to remember the fallen, and those who were fighting overseas. The parade would wind through the streets and end up at the cemetery where prayers would be said. But today, there’s so little on which we’re willing to spend our time and efforts. As I’d written before, faith and prayer are incredibly unpopular and seem to be on the top of the list of what we’re no longer willing to commit to in our lives. Memorial comes to a close second, unless we personally know someone who was lost in a war, or someone we love who is fighting right now.

It makes me wonder if perhaps we need to shift our focus. Maybe we need to remember more. There are a lot of people, men and women, who are away from their families, their loved ones, their children, their wives and husbands and partners, to keep us safe, putting their lives on the line for it. We need to remember those who have gone before us – all those who fought for this country where we have freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of speech (to a point). We need to remember. And in remembering, we need to pray (and oh, how unpopular that thought is) and give thanks for those people – past, current, and future – who feel our lives are important enough to protect with their own. What a gift!