Thursday, May 24, 2012

Remembering Why We Observe Memorial Day

A guest post from Kevin P.

Remembering Why We Observe Memorial Day

Memorial Day has its origins in the aftermath of the American Civil War.  The bloodiest conflict in our nation's history, veterans and the loved ones of fallen soldiers decided it was appropriate to set aside a day of remembrance for those who died.  Originally known as Decoration Day, this scattered-scheduled and unofficial commemoration was eventually dubbed Memorial Day, extended to honor all American lives lost in all wars, and made a federal holiday after the Second World War.

The reasons we set aside such a day of remembrance are obvious.  To give one's life for a greater good is the ultimate sacrifice any one individual can make.  Americans owe virtually everything they experience and appreciate to the wartime risks others make and the tragically inevitable likelihood that some will pay the full price for freedom.  For those of us fortunate enough to live a free life without ever having to fight for it, taking a weekend to think about those that have is the least that can be accomplished.

With that said, your Memorial Day Weekend doesn't have to revolve around mourning and grief to accomplish the task of honoring those that have given their lives for freedom.  In fact, it would most likely be the wish of each and every fallen American soldier past and present for you to take the three day weekend to enjoy the variety of fun and excitement that life in America has to offer.  They gave their lives in part to ensure that life goes on.

If you wish to go about Memorial Day the right way, get off the couch and go take advantage of personal, cultural, and economic freedom.  Attend a parade to pay your respects.  Host a potluck to cherish the company of friends and family.  Take a two-day camping trip to get a dose of the great outdoors.  Visit museums and exhibits to reacquaint yourself with the history and culture we're sworn to preserve.

Memorial Day ought not to be looked at as a blank check excuse for a vacation.  At the same time it shouldn't be spent being sad and mopey.  Instead, remember the sacrifices others have made and let that inspire you to get out there and appreciate all that the United States of America has to offer.

Kevin Pearia is a writer for Veterans United Network (VUN), a source for veterans’ benefits and information.  VUN is proudly sponsored by the nation’s leading VA Home Loan provider, Veterans United Home Loans.