In case America forgot, the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember the fallen American soldiers who bravely fought to defend our freedoms. Since its creation in 1958, this day of remembrance has largely morphed into a major party holiday in the U.S. It’s enough to make me wonder whether a large portion of the population has any clue about what this day actually represents. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has overtaken life as we know it, most Memorial Day ceremonies and parades have been canceled nationwide. Nevertheless, some Americans are still choosing to revere it in its proper context as a day we honor our men and women in uniform who never returned home.
And it’s those Americans that I’d like to highlight today.
A Pandemic Tribute To The Fallen
On Friday, one nurse Mary Gillen, who has been battling COVID-19 at her hospital in Boston, took matters into her own hands to honor the fallen when she learned the Memorial Day ceremony on the Boston Common was canceled. Gillen told Boston 25 News that she ordered 500 veteran-made flags to place at a park for all to see. She said, “Those who have fought for us and have left us a fighting spirit. So this is what we’re about… Right now, I feel like the pandemic has taken a lot from everyone, and right now we need a little something to celebrate.”
Meanwhile, over in Ohio, the city of University Heights has decided to still hold their Memorial Day parade – virtually. In an act of patriotism in spite of the virus crisis, the city says they will still feature Green Beret and Bronze Star recipient Frank LaRose, in addition to live performances of the Star-Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Memorial Day: A Renewed Sense Of Respect
Perhaps, in a way, something good will come of the pandemic that has impeded on every aspect of our daily lives. The whole premise of the push to stay at home was to save lives that were particularly threatened by the virus. This has forced most businesses to close, consequently causing most of life to shut down.
Right now, many Americans are sitting at home, seemingly with nothing to do. They can’t go to bars or have gatherings like they normally would on Memorial Day weekend, despite many reopening measures.
Will Americans, especially those in younger generations, finally remember what Memorial Day truly means?
Throughout this unprecedented time, it has become popular to revere nurses and first responders who have fearlessly been fighting the virus on the front lines, treating patients in hospitals and assisting those in need. While they have certainly done an honorable job, I hope Americans realize the parallel between the job they do and the job that soldiers do every day in far more treacherous territory.
Since the 1960s, the military has become far too politicized, and more often than not, it’s taken for granted. Regardless of whether people agree with the reasons our country has gone to war or what administration endorsed it, our brave servicemen and women are still worthy of our respect.
Today’s America needs to remember that we wouldn’t continue to exist without the military, nor would we have the freedoms that we enjoy. Not only do American troops serve as a beacon of freedom for American civilians, but they are also a symbol of liberty for the rest of the world. They deserve to be appropriately honored for their daily sacrifices, at the very least, by remembering them in our own country.