Try to fathom the number of men and women who have died fighting our nation’s enemies over the centuries. It’s overwhelming. It’s stunning. It’s certainly worth a moment of our time.
Memorial Day is called a holiday, and it should be a holy day. Unfortunately, for so long we have gone camping or swimming or hiking or shopping that since 2000 the day has been reduced to an official “National Moment of Remembrance.”
Nationally, at 3 p.m. May 29, we are expected to “pause.” Take a “moment.” Sacrifice a “minute” of your vacation to the thought of all those soldiers, sailors and Marines who died in the uniform of the United States.
Well, it takes longer than a pause to contemplate all of the dead listed on The Wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. It takes longer than a moment to absorb all of the Americans killed in World War II stretching across the walls of the Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson, Mo. It takes a lot longer than a minute to comprehend the crosses “row on row” at Arlington National Cemetery.
But it’s why Memorial Day was set aside.
It is to remember our war dead.
It is not a general day of remembrance for everyone you know who has passed on. It is not a general day of recognition for military veterans. It is not about the greatest sales event of the season.
It is a day - a whole day - to recognize how huge a sacrifice so many thousands have made. It is a time to feel the loss, the hole left behind, the impact left on each family with each death.
Maybe you never have been and never will be able to visit a national monument to war dead. It is easier and well worth your time to find a local ceremony paying tribute to those who died. Just a walk around a cemetery to find the veterans’ flags can be meditative.
Men and women in American uniforms are dying almost every day in another war. They, too, deserve more than a moment of our time.