I’ve been in the service for 18 years. During my service, I’ve been deployed many times, including being sent to war. I used to always think of Memorial Day as a somber occasion — a bitter-sweet holiday, where we celebrate the freedoms that were bought for us by the lives of veterans. We don’t even know what to say for the holiday as “Happy Memorial Day” really doesn’t sound appropriate. The internet is filled with pictures of widows and grave stones with serious reminders of what this holiday is really for.
While I would never advocate forgetting the sacrifices of soldiers, I don’t think we should treat this holiday as a dark, sad, and somber day overshadowed by death. That’s not what America is about and it’s not what we fought for. As one who has survived, I am saying to you, the citizenry — have a blowout BBQ on me. I mean it, smiles all around. Memorial Day SHOULD be a day of memory, just not a sad one.
I do ask one thing, one token of remembrance for veterans across this country from all wars and times — set aside a plate for them. Whether you have been personally affected by a veteran’s death, know someone who has, or just want to honor the idea of a veteran, go ahead and set aside a place setting and leave it empty in their memory. This is what we do during military functions and I think it’s appropriate for everyone on Memorial Day.
You see, we don’t want people to be sad on Memorial Day. We want you all to be happy. Celebrate your freedom! Have fun! Go to the pool, head to the beach, party in the mountains. And, if you’re going to have a BBQ, make it huge, with all the food, sides, and trimmings! It’s what we fought for. And when you look over and see that empty place setting, don’t be sad. Instead, think of a funny story you remember of them and share it. Please, remember your veterans, but don’t mourn us. Not today.
Have a great Memorial Day!