Memorial Day has become homogenized like most holidays in the US. We love our three-day weekends, we love a chance to get together with friends and family, and we love to decorate. Somewhere in the mix of it all, we lose sight of what the significance of the holiday was meant to be.
Living in more of a neighborhood setting than I ever have, I’m much more aware of what is going on in the surrounding houses. Driving up our street, I see groups of cars around driveways, we watch pools being opened and hear the parties going on in backyards up and down the street. It’s great. I love the celebration of people coming together.
I do hold a very dear hope that at some point in these backyard parties, people are taking a few moments to honor those that have served our country. You don’t need to be of any particular political party or even agree with the policies that have sent our troops into battle. Where ever our personal politics fall, we can’t deny the sacrifice and the service of our armed forces. Many have given their health, their future and their lives in support of policies they may not even have agreed with. But, they loved their country and the ideals that our country was founded on enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
How many of us know the story of our parents and our parents’ parents? How many of us understand what they may have witnessed and experienced while serving their country? We lose our foundation when we lose sight of our personal heritage and history. Military service can frequently be swept under the rug because of differences in political beliefs. The mood of a country can vastly impact how troops are treated when they return home. Baby boomers think immediately of the Vietnam war and how terribly and disrespectfully troops were treated upon their return home. It’s shameful. No matter what we think of our government, our parents tenure in the military is a huge part of a family’s history. If we feel shame about our government, we are less likely to engage and ask questions about what service men and women have experienced. It greatly minimizes their incredible sacrifice. Tell a family member that you appreciate their service and their sacrifice.
That concept can be applied at large to family history. How many of us are capturing our parents’ stories now, while we still can? How many rich experiences are being lost because no one is taking the time to record them? This is one of those projects that can seem so vast that we get overwhelmed and just never start. This Memorial Day weekend provides the perfect setting to sit down with the older generation and capture a story or two. Do you know how your grandparents met, or how many brothers or sisters they have/had, or where they were born? Take a little while this weekend to sit down with someone from the older generation and write or record a story or two. Just ask a simple question. Chances are you will come away with a great bunch of stories. Your children will be glad you did.