We tend to forget what Memorial Day is all about.

We tend to forget what Memorial Day is all about.

 

When is Memorial Day? It typically falls on the last Monday in the month of May. What did you and your family do for Memorial Day? How did you celebrate the holiday?

When someone mentions Memorial Day most people see a wonderful three day weekend. There are plans to go fishing, plans to go camping, or hang with family over a BBQ. We see red, white and blue flags. We also see stores preparing for more red, white, and blue because of the 4th of July in celebration of our countries birthday.

We forget at times to teach our children what the holiday is actually for. It wasn’t until I spent six years as a military wife did the holiday mean something to me.

You may go fishing, camping, to the lake, you may even spend time with family at a BBQ. A good many hot dogs and hamburgers later. This is time to take a moment of silence for our military men and women who have served and have died.

This is not the time in which we are to thank a man/woman who has/is serving in one of the branches of the Armed Forces. This is a time to remember those that have been lost, those that have died in combat, those that have never returned home (Missing In Action), and those veterans that have passed on. I am the granddaughter of a World War 2 veteran.

We don’t pay enough attention to the countless numbers in which we have lost.

  • In World War 1 the number of military lost stands at 116,516
  • In World War 2 the number of military lost stands at 405,399 this includes the 2,335 lost at Pearl Harbor with 78,750 service members MIA
  • In the Vietnam War, the number of military lost is 58,209 with 2,255 service member MIA
  • Operation Enduring Freedom the number of service members lost is 2,356
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom the number of service members lost is 4,489

These are men and women who made a choice to join the Armed Forces. They make a decision knowing that upon signing on that line they will become government property. They are choosing to do so for a duration of time up to the cost of their own life. It’s not just the loss of life they are at risk of losing. Service members come home with battle wounds, loss of limbs, and post-traumatic stress.

I am also the stepdaughter of a man who served in Vietnam. I can take a moment out of my day on November 11th to thank him for his service.

What I will never be able to understand in the way he does is the memory of a loss in life he endured for his service. It is one thing to serve and be able to come home. It’s another to serve and come home knowing your friend did not.

I am ashamed of the way our country treated those that served in Vietnam. We looked down upon brave individuals who either signed up to go to war, or they were drafted to join. If you see someone wearing a Vietnam Veterans hat. Take the time to thank them for their service. It takes only a minute, but the heartwarming they receive from something they may not have gotten when they came home makes a world of difference.

I am heartbroken over how we look at our military. It’s like we feel they have it easy. They don’t in reality. They work long hours doing jobs that a civilian is nicely paid for. The longer the service member is in the military the more they are paid, as well as if they are able to make the next rank. Which still doesn’t add up to much.

They are held to a high standard of physical tests. They must be able to fulfill their job and meet regular reviews. They can be stationed anywhere in the USA, or on any base outside the country. They are at times separated from their family for extended periods of time. They miss birthdays, holidays, and even at times the birth of their own children.

We should be proud that because someone served that they are able to go to college on the GI Bill. This way it allows the service member to be a part of the civilian word with the knowledge to succeed. They can if they chose to take what career the military gave them and seek the same job field within the civilian world.

We look at the VA hospital and believe it to do a wonderful job for our military. Unless you have had to deal with the VA it’s not so wonderful. I am the daughter of an honorable Navy electrician. Who at the current moment due to a massive stroke is residing within the VA hospital in Arizona? I have a friend who deals with the same hospital due to medical issues. It is not something to be proud of.

As a former service member, the treatments within the VA hospital are fair, to say the least. As coming from the wife of a former service member the medical care from the on-base hospital was okay. I spent more time in urgent care than with an actual physician.

So to believe that the members of the Armed Forces get more than they deserve is sad. If we take adequate care of them for the job that they are doing we would see members of the Armed Forces serving until retirement. They wouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet while working long hours a day.

We should be thankful to those members that are alive and are veterans or currently serving. We should be grateful to them each and every day. Not just on Veterans Day.

We should honor our duty to remember the ones that have died. The men and women who don’t get to go home. We should show our children what the holiday stands for.

The military is the fighting force for why we can say and do the things we do. They are the reason we have the freedoms that we have. The reason behind the tomb of the unknown soldier, and the Vietnam Wall.

Great events in history come from one of the many wars the United States has fought in. There are many movies to come from these wars as well

  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • The Thin Red Line
  • Men of Honor
  • The Enemy at the Gates
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Behind Enemy Lines
  • We Were Soldiers
  • Rescue Dawn
  • Lincoln
  • Lone Survivor
  • American Sniper
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • 13 hours
  • Taking Chance

 

We also had television shows based on the military and some true events.

  • MASH
  • Band of Brothers
  • The Pacific
  • NCIS
  • Jag

I mention these things as they relate to some true stories and are some of the fiction. Some great movies and television come from the war the service member of the armed forces take part in. It is our job to remember them for what they have done and the freedoms in which we are given.

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22 thoughts on “We tend to forget what Memorial Day is all about.”

  • This is a good reminder to teach our children what the day is about. It is more than just grilling hot dogs and swimming. Thank you for the reminder and the hard facts that we cannot afford to forget.

  • Thank you so much for this! I too am a wife of a former Marine (Once a Marine. Always a Marine), and have had family serve in every war from WW2 on. We are a proud family and thankful for our servicemen and women but you are right… they do not have it easy at all. The VA is the absolute last place any of my family members want to go and it is sad that we cannot provide them a good quality of service. Thank you for helping to open others eyes.

  • This is an excellent reminder, thank you for writing this and offering some really helpful suggestions. I am also a granddaughter of a WWII Veteran and while he didn’t die during the war, he is no longer with us. I miss him dearly and always think of him on this special weekend.

  • It’s sad that we tend to forget what memorial days about the other 364 days a year. Which is why this day is so important.

  • What a great reminder to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Amid all the cookouts and celebrations, we need to remember WHY we are able to enjoy our freedom to do these things. Thank you for sharing!

  • You know what’s crazy is I didn’t really know what Memorial Day was really about until this year when someone told me. I was never taught, or never taught well enough that it stuck. I will definitely be teaching my son the true meaning and how important it is!

    • That is awesome, there are many ways to show your son this. There are movies that would be great to show him, “Max” is child appropriate and about a military dog.

  • This is so interesting and true. I was just talking to my husband about the fact that people “celebrate” Memorial Day rather than using it as a time to honor those we’ve lost. I wish more Americans understood this.

  • Thank you for this article. It is so important to teach the next generation about the real Memorial Day. When my daughter gets a bit older I will show her pictures of her great grandfather and great great uncles who served. When I was a kid we decorated the graves on Memorial Day. Now we go to the lake, eat BBQ and swim. It is my responsibility to educate my family about these brave men in our family, who unselfishly fought for our country.

  • This was a good write up, and such a good reminder cause you are right we are more caught up on the holiday aspect of it. I think most people who aren’t directly affected don’t even know what the day is truly about

  • Great post! Thank you for it. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to try to balance family and being in the military. The veterans and their families sacrifice a whole lot for the rest of us.

  • This was amazing to read. I fully intend on teaching my child what Memorial Day is really about, especially since I’ve had people tell me it isn’t really a holiday.

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