Over the years Memorial Day has traditionally been the long weekend that begins summer for many people. Growing up, I don’t remember doing anything memorable other than enjoying the warmer weather and possibly having hamburgers and/or hotdogs on that special Monday.
Once I experienced life as a military spouse and endured Vietnam-era losses, I began to appreciate the true meaning of this day in May, remembering those who gave their lives fighting for my freedom in wars that had been described in my history books. People who many times never got to live past their late teens or early 20s, coming home to their families in a flag-draped box. One boy who sat near me in a high school class was lost in Vietnam and I remember a field trip to Washington, DC, where my eighth graders and I searched for his name on the Vietnam Memorial wall. Once we found it, two students made an etching of it for me to take back to my social studies classroom. War and loss became reality for some of them that day.
My most favorite memory of Memorial Day are the patriotic assemblies that I planned at my middle school for 6th – 8th graders. These occurred in the years after 9-11, and included power point slides, music, dance, poems, drill team presentations, and the meaning of the triangular folds of the U.S. flag. It was an enjoyable, entertaining, and hopefully, memorable experience for the student body.
However you choose to spend this holiday, I hope you remember the cost of your freedom for so many who never got to enjoy it.
God bless – Sue