By Rich Pezzullo
I was just lectured about wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day”. “Isn’t that an oxymoron,” I was asked, “Right up there with “Jumbo Shrimp” and “Military Intelligence”?
This was as I joined my fellow patriots in stocking up with supplies for the grill and ice chest. In addition to cheering at parades and participating in celebrations throughout the weekend, we do have responsibilities that extend beyond not showing up at the BBQ empty handed.
At Gettysburg, Lincoln summed up our responsibility pretty clearly. He commissioned each of us, throughout the ages, to ensure “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
In addition to remembering the honored dead, whose exploits facing people paid to kill them can only be glimpsed with the help of media in every form, movies, books, articles, photos and firsthand accounts, there are others we must remember, in a way that each of us can see and understand.
As we gather with our families to mark this weekend of memorial we will enjoy looking in the faces of those we love. We will share in their lives and let them share in ours. We will certainly enjoy the time with them.
As we do, this joy gives us an opportunity to share a relevant truth. For every person who fell in defense of liberty, there were people just like us; who saw their loved one step on a plane, bus, boat or train; or who just saw them suddenly in harm’s way, and never saw them again.
As we honor the fallen, we also recognize and share the grief of those they left behind. Their pain lives for decades. We must never allow it to be forgotten or ignored. Remembering them and honoring their loss assures that as a nation we will live up to Lincoln’s timeless commission shared centuries ago.
There is no oxymoron in wishing for a “Happy” “Memorial” day. As we visit the cemeteries with our children, we can proudly teach them how to honor sacrifice and in the silence we can truly enjoy the peace and freedom they purchased for us. We can honor the dead by celebrating the liberty they preserved for us. We can honor them by bringing comfort to the families left behind by them.
And we thank them by sharing joy with our loved ones and proving with God given and veteran protected liberty that the fallen did not die in vain.
So “Party On”! Those who secured freedom for us would expect no less than we enjoy it.