• Michael Padilla-Pagan Pay

Memorial day, we need it more now, and we need to talk about it.


As the world comes to grips with the effects of COVID-19, it has changing how we live and work in ways we would not have thought possible even months ago. Today’s new normal for businesses includes work-from-home difficulties, many simultaneously sick workers, disrupted supply chains, cash crunches, uncertain compliance obligations, and the mechanics of applying for new government programs. But that gives us time to reflect on other important matters, Memorial Day and the value we should instill.


Memorial Day is a holiday that means so much more than hot dogs, parades, and the start of the summer. Not that those things are bad, but it isn’t Memorial Day unless we remember what the day is really about—honoring the people who laid down their lives to save our lives, and to protect America, and our freedoms.


As a veteran and a military brat, I know what Memorial Day means to me. Memorial Day weekend is chatting with one of my best friends online who is deployed right now. It’s helping another battle buddy of mine with tips as he transitions out of the Military.


Once a year in the United States of America we are called upon to actively honor the sacrifice of our uniformed men and women who've died in service to our nation.


The purpose: “to remember and renew the legacy of Memorial Day with greater strides made to demonstrate appreciation of those loyal people of the United States whose values, represented by their sacrifices, are critical to the future of the United States.”


We need fewer moments of silence and more moments of talking about service and sacrifice to our younger generations. If we are to truly honor those who gave their last full of measure of devotion, we must be active, not passive, in our strides to impress those values upon the broad public, where it seem currently, we have lost them.


We are most at risk when we forget where we come from, where we've been, and who was there. As the 75th anniversary of V-E Day past us in May this year , this Memorial Day feels particularly poignant. The last vestiges of the Greatest Generation are upon us, as the Korean and Vietnam War veterans enter their twilight.


Too soon, the burden of remembering will be passed along to those who did not experience such things firsthand. The post-9/11 veteran generation must recognize its promise to uphold the honor and dignity of their sacrifice, while sharing our own.


We must volunteer again, this time to speak at a local elementary, middle, or high school- our presence a tangible reminder that freedom is only one generation away from extinction.

Schools, universities, and employers must open their doors and their minds. Not as a handout, but as an acknowledgment that every American is beholden to the future of our nation and the inculcation of her values.


Even in a time when our fear of the global economy , jobs and income makes us feel vast and insurmountable, we can and must rally around this cause.


There are no shortages of threats to life and liberty. There might yet come again a time when the entirety of the nation finds itself mourning and remembering the loss of significant American life.


In closing I am reminded of these words by General John Logan, general order No. 11 on Mya 2 1868

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or the coming generations, that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided Republic. If other eyes grow dull, and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remains to us.

And so, as you enter into your festivities, be it a barbecue or a trip to the cemetery whose hallowed ground holds someone dear, commit to the potential of America. Seek out opportunities to engage veterans, past, present, and future, so together we can honor the sacrifice and service of those who have gone before while realizing the promise of an even brighter future.

24 views0 comments