Monday, May 26, 2014

Live Free

1. (n.) something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc., as a monument or a holiday.
2. (adj.) preserving the memory of a person or thing; commemorative: memorial services.
(special thanks to for that)

As an Army spouse I suppose it is only right of me to acknowledge Memorial Day on the blog, but going about that has left me searching for some answers about how the rest of this military community embraces such a day.  What I’ve found is there is no true answer…

Memorial Day has always created a host of different emotions for me.  Typically, we spend it grilling various meat products in the backyard, having a few adult beverages, and tossing bean bags and darts across the lawn.  But I always like to look for the deeper meanings to celebrations, American holidays especially, and take a quiet moment to reflect on what it’s all about, what it took to get to the point we’re at that day (I’m a history nerd, so what?).  With FM being a part of our American armed forces for the last few rounds of national holidays, it’s brought about an even deeper sense of American pride to recognize the sacrifices so many have made throughout the years to make this nation what it is, and the gravity of what he’s giving up to do that for yet another generation of Americans. 

But over the past few years I’ve also come across many the pessimist, the purist, or the downright angry when it comes to the topic of this American holiday.  And, for some military families, rightfully so as they continue to grieve losses and spend “holidays” constructed to memorialize human sacrifices relatively alone, while being invited to share the excitement of a day off from the daily grind with ears of corn and slabs of beef.  I feel for them. I truly do.  And I shudder to imagine myself being left without FM to suffer through an American holiday, like Memorial Day, with only his memory on the side of my cheeseburger.

More than once, through a blog post, a news story, or a TV commercial, I’ve had to ask myself, is this how we should spend Memorial Day?  Should we be silent and commemorative, under a veil of black, mourning what we have lost?  Should we be over the moon with excitement for not only a three day weekend and blowout deals at the mall but gorging ourselves on potato salad and hot dogs?

The answer, I’ve learned, lies somewhere in between, as most answers do.

We must remember what we’ve lost in moments of reflection; silently thank those who have given it all to allow us to live in a nation that is free.  We must feel for those who continue to live with that loss, and respect their anger and woundedness.  We must also celebrate; enjoy times with those that are here in the present, veteran or civilian.  We must honor those who have gone before their time as they themselves would have honored others should they have had the chance.  We must live; for ourselves, and for them.

So, this Memorial Day, eat that hamburger and have a beer (or glass of wine, or sparkling cider for my with-child friends). Relax, enjoy the day however you choose to.  Celebrate living in this great nation.  Be thankful for what you have, what we all have, as a result of the sacrifices and selflessness of others. But most importantly, live free, or those who have sacrificed all will have done so in vain.  Live free.

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