History tell us the “modern day Memorial Day” became “official” in 1868 and was called Decoration Day. It was just after the Civil War and people on both sides were still sensitive to any discussion! It was a time of intense pain for both the North and South. But on this day they celebrated the lives lived and those lost by placing flowers on the graves of those taken, both Confederate and Union soldiers, in those previous, horrible four years. At Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. where the event was held, speeches were given, hymns sung and prayers were said. Since that time, an additional ceremony of honor, a wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, has taken root.
It’s a solemn occasion when we remember the cost of our freedom. Even now we have young men and women who are participating in battles all over the globe for freedoms we take for granted and rarely even give a second thought to.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t have anyone close to me that I know I lost in any wars. But I’m sure there are those I don’t know about. My dad fought in the Korean War, my husband in the Viet Nam war and a son in the Iraq war, as well as a son-in-law still in the military and a host of other relatives who were in the military across all the branches, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Army. (I’m not certain if I had family in the Coast Guard.) My loved ones returned, alive. But there are wounds. Wounds of the spirit and soul, which still plague the mind; as well as, physical wounds, which still bring pain to the body.
As I consider my family members who were willing to go to war for my freedom,: the right to bear arms, worship in the way I choose, have and share my personal opinions without threat of harm, the press, and even the freedom of being able to pen this post, I remember with a thankful heart.
War is an ugly word (from my perspective). It causes great harm to those in battle, and often even when technically over, there is still much debate about who won which battle, who started it and why, the political strategies and more. And often the situation which was being fought over in the first place still isn’t resolved, or if in theory it is, there is sure to be someone who decides the cause isn’t over and begins a conflict again with a different person, in a different geographic area and in a different way. Does this mean war is wrong? No, I don’t think so, regardless of how I hate it. There are times when we have to stand our ground on principle and not back down to bullies, great or small.
All that said, I remain grateful for those who are honorable and choose to fight for those “freedoms” I choose to claim. So thank you to all the active military soldiers still involved in protecting me. Thank you, also, to all those who fought in wars and have returned to me, my loved ones, and to those families I do not know. Thank you, especially to those families who, even today, mourn those brave soldiers they lost in battle. I know the war must still live in your heart as you remember and deal with your pain. You are also honorable, and I am proud to call you my friend.