EDITORIAL: The true meaning of Memorial Day

York Dispatch
Elementary students from St. Rose of Lima School place flags on the graves of veterans at Holy Savior Cemetery in Manchester Township in preparation for Memorial Day, Monday, May 23, 2016. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

“Memorial Day is a special day. It is a day of honor and reverence; it is a solemn day. Today we must recognize an unfortunate fact of life: our beloved country was formed and is protected by the blood of warriors. As unfortunate as this is we can be thankful, because over the years America has answered the call every time our way of life has been threatened.

No one has more succinctly and accurately described what someone puts on the line when they sign a contract to serve in the armed forces than legendary General Jim Mattis of the United States Marine Corps. In a recent address to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Mattis articulated, ‘You signed blank checks payable with your lives to the American people.’” – USMemorialDay.org

What will you be doing at 3 p.m. local time Monday — Memorial Day?

While travel, picnics and enjoying parties with friends and family may be in order, we would like to suggest that, if you are able, you take a moment to stop what you are doing and join other like-minded Americans who will be observing in their own ways the sacrifice that U.S. troops have made to preserve this country’s democracy.

If 3 p.m. local time isn’t convenient, perhaps when you wake up in the morning or turn in for the evening — or even periodically during your day off from work — you might pause to remember the meaning of Memorial Day.

York County honors fallen at Memorial Day ceremonies

To help re-educate Americans about the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December 2000. It asks Americans to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to taps.”

It’s a nice way to remind ourselves what the day means while still enjoying picnics and the like.

Many understand that Memorial Day is to be a solemn day to remember military troops who have sacrificed their lives in service of their country. Of course, celebrations have replaced somber remembrances in most places, and we might start the day attending a parade and end it having a party.

To be sure, Memorial Day is a nice kick-off to summer, and it’s understandable that people would like to enjoy it as such.

Still, it’s important to remember and honor the sacrifice of more than 1.1 million Americans killed in U.S. wars — a staggering number with equally staggering consequences.