While the first Memorial Day events were held in the United States in the late 19th century, the practice of honoring those who have died in battle dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for fallen soldiers each year. And, one of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 BC, when the Athenean general Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian war – a speech that some have compared in quality to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.
Here in America Memorial Day has become a day off work for many. A time to celebrate the beginning of summer. A time to have a barbecue with friends and family. A time to chill at home and binge watch Netflix. But, really, while all of these things can be enjoyable, Memorial Day should really be a time to reflect. A time to remember those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving this country.
Personally, on this holiday, I also think of the families of the fallen. The brothers. The sisters. The wives and husbands. The moms and dads. My how they must have suffered. And I’m sure they still do. Imagine your brother, who you played with, wrestled with, shared secrets with. Imagine him proudly going off to war and then never coming home.
Yes, on Memorial Day, enjoy your barbecue, your Netflix binge, etc., but don’t forget to remember. Remember the fallen. The true. The brave. Remember.
Carol Fenn 5-2018