Saturday, May 23, 2015

What is Memorial Day All About?

A visitor to our country will observe the scurrying around on Memorial Day and conclude that it's "National Camping Day," "National Barbecue Day," or "National Mattress Shopping Day," right?

Actually, if you really stop and think about it. Memorial Day is for remembrance. If you look at the History Channel webpage describing Memorial Day, you will see a succinctly written history of the day:

Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.

And then, sadly, a Memorial Day mattress sale ad plays over the article. But we should stop and take a moment to remember. I do that by reflecting on this poem, which has great meaning to me:

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God

Memorial Day... Lest we forget.