The U.S. celebrates Memorial Day the last Monday of each May. Designated as a federal holiday in the U.S., it was originally intended to be a day to honor and remember the many brave and selfless individuals who have died while serving their nation.
Unfortunately, over time, the true meaning of Memorial Day seems to have gotten lost.
Memorial Day has evolved to become a day where commercialism reigns, a day when sales are promoted. It's inevitable each year some search engine will have "Memorial Day Sales" phrase trending as a popular search phrase.
But it's not just the sales. Memorial Day has also evolved as the 'official' launch of the summer season. Many people throw parties, go to barbeques or head off to soak up the sun. Traditionally, it has become the weekend where beaches and pools open up and people take off on mini-vacations to help brush away the memories of the harsher winter weather many regions in the U.S. experience.
As a result, the true meaning behind Memorial Day often gets undermined. Despite the commercial takeover, there are still many communities across the nation that do plan special events to commemorate the many brave individuals who have served in the U.S. military.
In the Washington, D.C. area, many commemorations and ceremonies are taking place that honor and pay respect to those who have given their all. Many wreath-laying ceremonies are taking place at the memorials on the National Mall and are open to the public.
At 11 a.m. a wreath-laying ceremony and concert will be held in honor of Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 4 p.m., another ceremony will be held at Arlington by The Women In Military Service For America Memorial, which is located at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery.
This year President Obama will attend the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington and also is scheduled to be present at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Today at 2 p.m. the annual Memorial Day parade take place in downtown Washington where many people will come together to pay respects. This parade "pays tribute to the pride, sacrifice and service of America's Veterans."
On the outskirts of D.C., other ceremonies and parades are scheduled to take place. The city of Falls Church, Va., is holding its 31st Annual Memorial Day Parade and Festival.
While there is nothing wrong with celebrating the day with family and friends, and having a good time over the long weekend, let us all remember to take a moment to honor and reflect upon those self-sacrificing individuals who have and do serve in the military.
Additionally, all too often we hear the negative stories in the media, but much rarer is it we read about the kindness and altruistic acts performed by individuals in the U.S. Military, and in some cases, go misunderstood. The next time a negative story goes 'viral' on the Internet, keep in mind there are several other acts of kindness and goodness by U.S. military members that go completely unnoticed.
Thank you to all the individuals who have selflessly served their country with courage. You are not forgotten.
"We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies."
~ Moina Michael