Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: Memorial Day... it's about much more than picnics

For this week's Throwback Thursday, I'm revisiting a post from Memorial Day 2010.


It's Memorial Day and I woke up wondering about what my role should be. Growing up, Memorial Day started off with a parade, in which, as a Girl Scout, I took part in. We marched up the hill at the cemetery and there, we honored those brave military men and women who sacrificed all. It was a good tradition that is now simply a memory.

I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the last time I attended a Memorial Day parade. [Note: I attended a Memorial Day parade last year.] I'd never really given it much thought before today. After all, I don't enjoy parades. But as I thought about it, I realized the purpose of a Memorial Day parade is not for entertainment. For me to attend a Memorial Day parade would take, well, a sacrifice on my part. And for that reason, I very much regret not coming to that conclusion in enough time for me to drive somewhere to stand along the parade route and honor those who march by; those who are a small representation of the lives lost for our country. To stand by in tribute, to humbly say "thank you," to watch teary-eyed as the flag passes by... that's what I should be doing on Memorial Day.

I did my children a great disservice by not instilling in them the need, the desire, to commemorate these brave servants by respectfully honoring those who march by on the a Monday morning in May. I sit back and watch as Americans busy themselves with plans for fun on Memorial Day. Not that I begrudge anyone a family gathering or a picnic with friends. But when all we think about and celebrate is a three-day weekend with good times and good food, I think we're missing the point somehow.

As parents, and grandparents, it is our duty to instill in the younger generations a respect and an awe for those in the military, both past and present, regardless of our view of war. For everyone who serves is in a potential position of great sacrifice. Jesus said it well when He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)  Greater love indeed.

As parents, grandparents, spouses, children and friends grieve the loss of their brave loved ones today, I honor them as well for their sacrifice and count myself blessed to not be standing side-by-side with them in their grief. My heart and prayers go out to you, dear ones.

While they did not lose their lives at war, I also want to give thanks for the service of my father, Harold V. Haatainen and my step-father, Daniel W. Wagner, who both served in WWII. Dan received a Purple Heart after his ship suffered a kamikaze hit. Both these men were wonderful examples to me of bravery and service. Oh, to be more like them.

So, this Memorial Day, pause for a bit and send up a prayer of thanksgiving for those who fought and died for our country. Remember them.

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