To most people, Memorial Day marks the end of school, the beginning of summer, the season’s first full-blown BBQ party, or simply another reason to drink beer and watch the ball game.

It’s understandable, given that it coincides with the temperatures rising to summer proportions.  And let’s not forget, it’s a three-day weekend.  You can’t let that pass without a party, right?

Besides, we’ve always had a barbeque party this weekend, so why stop now.

You know what — I agree.  It’s a great time to get together with family and friends and enjoy each other’s company, whether it’s at the beach, at the lake, at a ball game or in your back yard.

But here’s a thought to add to the party.  Let’s take a minute, sixty whole seconds, to remember why this holiday exists.

It wasn’t created with the idea of parties in mind.  It didn’t come about by a group of guys in a bar that had this great idea for an annual event.

It was created to remember those soldiers that gave everything they had to serve and protect their country.  Our country!

It was created shortly after the Civil War ended.  Although there are several towns that claim to have begun this traditional day of remembrance, the town of Waterloo, New York was given official credit for holding the first affair on May 5, 1866.  Granted, the official word came down 100 years later, but President Johnson made it official anyway.

In the early days, it was known as Decoration Day.  The tradition of placing flowers at the graves of every fallen soldier led to the name.

The story of the holiday’s origins is an intriguing one, a story that demonstrates the fact that human beings in a free society, a society that had to fight to obtain its freedom, are naturally compassionate and good people.

Unfortunately, with today’s watered-down, politically correct versions of history being taught to our children, much of this has been lost in the stories.

As a result, to many people Memorial Day is simply the kickoff party for the summer to come.  The true meaning of the event has been lost.

Here’s an idea.  Add another game to your party this year.  Play a quick round of Memorial Day trivia, just for fun.  You can ad-lib the stakes, although there’s a good chance that beer will be involved.

If you don’t know enough about Memorial Day’s history to talk about it intelligently, there are many sites out there that can assist you.  I will include some links at the end of this post.

Here’s a better idea.  Do a little research on your own, simply to educate yourself.  Share the information with those around you.  Then take a moment during the day, let’s say 3:00 PM local time, and offer a moment of silence for those heroes over the years that made the ultimate sacrifice so that you would be able to enjoy the most free life on earth.

I know this will not be easy, since you would have to put down that beer or interrupt that party on the water, perhaps even risk burning a hot dog on the grill.  Not much of a sacrifice in the big scheme of things, don’t you think?

If you’re at the ball game, or simply watching it on TV, pay an extra bit of attention when the Star Spangled Banner is performed before the game.  Listen closely to the words and try to understand the story that is being told.  You’ll see that there is no other holiday that is a more fitting setting for this great National Anthem.

And if you are fortunate enough to have been asked to perform this great song, please do everyone a favor.  Remember that this is not your American Idol audition.  Leave the runs out of the song.  Forget about the high pitched, Mariah Carey screeching at the end of the song.

Sing the song as it was written.  You have been given the freedom and honor to present this anthem to all within earshot.  Please have the dignity and decency to do so with the honor that the song deserves.

This great country was built on the backs of great people.  Through hard work, teamwork and dedication, this has become the greatest country in the world.  As with anything worthwhile in life, freedom does not come cheap.  It comes with a high price.

Today, let’s make sure we remember to honor those that paid the ultimate price to ensure the freedom that we all now enjoy.

The following are a couple of links that can give you a crash course in the history of Memorial Day:



  1. 1 Jen Burns

    Love this!!! Very well written!!!!

  2. Reblogged this on A View From the Nose Bleed Seats and commented:

    I first posted this article two years ago and received a warm response. Here it is again, something to think about before the party gets started!

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