Remember the true meaning of Memorial Day

May 25, 2014 

I’ve never lost anyone to war. As a military wife, I have packed my husband up for numerous deployments, but he has always returned home to me.

Compared to the families who have sent their loved ones off to war, only to learn later those send-offs had been a final farewell, my plight is minor. Missing years and months pale in contrast to the end of someone’s story.

Life goes on, as they say, and people move on. But the reality of Memorial Day is that none of us would be moving on without the sacrifices made by the men and women willing to fight to protect America’s way of life.

The origins of Memorial Day seem forgotten as we are now found soaking up rays rather than decorating the graves of our country’s fallen heroes. A holiday that was intended to honor sacrifice has turned into the prelude of summer, with many Americans not even pausing to remember.

Americans have become so far removed from the purpose of the holiday that in December 2000 Congress enacted the National Moment of Remembrance Act encouraging Americans to pause on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time to remember the sacrifices of military members killed in action.

It seems implausible that a day created to memorialize those killed in war would need an additional act of Congress just to get us to spend one minute in silence remembering.

Patriotism may not be in the forefront of our country’s culture anymore, but as a military spouse surrounded by those who serve, I can attest patriotism is not dead. It is alive in the hearts and minds of military members past, present and future, who believe in our country’s principles enough to serve till death if necessary.

This Memorial Day I implore each of you before you head off to enjoy the festivities of the day to think of the many families past and present who have had to continue life without their loved one and how their spilled blood has allowed you to live the life you desire “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Memorial Day is our chance to celebrate the men and women who served their country with pride and had their story ended much too soon. I believe they were willing to die so we could all enjoy the simple pleasures of life without fear. Consequently, I am not suggesting you not enjoy the freedoms provided by their sacrifice as part of the three-day weekend we all look forward to.

Instead, I encourage each of you to take the time to do something to give credit where credit is due this Memorial Day -- visit a military cemetery, read a story about a soldier who gave it all, attend a memorial service or simply take the time to explain to your children or grandchildren the reason for the holiday.

Amanda Creel, a former staff writer for the Robins Rev-Up newspaper on Robins Air Force Base and former columnist for The Telegraph, is married to Tech. Sgt. Justin Creel, stationed at Hurlburt Field in Florida.

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