The True Meaning of Memorial Day

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend.  To many people this means parties, barbecue, family, maybe a beach trip or a vacation.  All of these things are good, joyous even.  However, this weekend is not about the start of summer, good weather, or even time with family.  This weekend is time to reflect on life, liberty, freedom, happiness, and so much more.  Sure parties, vacations, and family time are all related to those things but why do we have these things?  How are we free?  We are free in large part due to the sacrifice of our military past and present.  Technically to those who died for our liberty, peace, and freedom.

Our Girl Scout troops gathered this weekend to place flags on every grave in our local National Cemetery.  Joining them (or rather we joined) over 1,000 people honored the sacrifice and strife these people went through for themselves and for us.  The sight of a National Cemetery covered in American flags is profoundly moving.  Kids, adults, veterans, everyone was moved to some emotional degree - the number of tears shed Saturday morning could certainly move mountains.  This was far from our first year attending this event yet it left me as emotionally raw as the first visit.

My grandfather is buried here, so are the grandfathers of many of my scouts and their families.  So is the brother of a friend I am getting to know.  Some of those buried here died of old age but with war stories, some died in the middle of life far from home, some passed here at home but still at war in their souls.  Each grave contains a host of memories and stories, love and loss.  As we audibly thanked each soldier or his wife (they serve just as much) for their service it brought the memories and love to life.  Grown men (bikers too) cried and it showed how precious life is.

The world has good in it.  Lots of it.  Over 1,000 people spread good in a matter of a few hours.  People will see and enjoy that good all weekend as they visit their loved ones gone before us.

A soldier, double amputee himself, placed flags on the graves alongside the Girl Scouts, parents, grandparents, daughters, sons, and random strangers.  People stopped and thanked him, encouraged him, cried for him.  Yet he was there honoring those who served our country the same as me, thankful, grateful, and full of love for this country and what is stands on.

Then on the way home from the cemetery, already emotionally charged, there was more good. Inherent biblical good.  Just as in the story from Luke 21:1-4 when the poor woman gives her all to the donation box while the wealthy gave but a pittance.

A homeless man dirty, hungry, unshaven, alone; asking for money on the left side of the road.  People well fed and clothed, clean asking for donations for a 13 year old girl fighting cancer on the right hand side of the road.  Traffic was at a stand still and the man - the homeless man - crossed through the cars and walked up the sidewalk.  At first I thought he looked defeated, tired, done for the day.  Then I watched the miracle: he walked up to the donation bucket and emptied his pockets - donating his money, his entirety into the bucket and smiling, fulfilled he walked away.

I am so thankful that I was witness to some amazing miraculous moments this weekend.  That I was able to see God working his hand and to know that these moments still exist.  The moments those soldiers fought, were injured or even died for happen every day on every street corner and in every home.  Moments for us to do good, to spread joy and happiness all around us.  Let us lift one another up and be happy.  Spread joy.

I certainly feel blessed by God this weekend and I hope he blesses you too!

- Ash of All Trades.


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