You may think this is a day late, but I think it's right on time. I have a story to share, and I knew if I shared it yesterday, the likelihood of it getting lost or overlooked or jumbled in the other weeds was significant. Today has a better likelihood of it being seen. Yesterday was Memorial Day. It is a holiday that many are unfamiliar with, that many do not recognize. It is a federal holiday in the United States for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces. Let that sink in.
For most, July 4th is our Independence Day, and indeed it is. July 4th we celebrate the Declaration of Independence for two reasons. It represents an official severing of ties between the original 13 colonies and the rule of Great Britain. But it also represents the core of our beliefs, the very makeup of our identity as citizens of the U.S. (Miliary.com) So we think parades, picnics, fireworks and bbqs.
Most people think 4th of July is about your freedom. And it is. It's freedom to be our own country. So what then IS Memorial Day?
That's the day we celebrate those who have fought, and still fight, for our country. When we severed our ties in 1776, we didn't gain the freedoms we have now - we have had to fight for them. When we severed our ties in 1776, it didn't mean we would never go to war with other countries desiring what we were building - and wars we have had to fight. Lives have been lost. Families have been sacrificed for the USA, and stances have had to be held to remain a free country. THAT is what Memorial Day is about - remembering those who had or have served.
Two weeks ago I went on a glorious hiking adventure in north GA, and ended up in Chattanooga, TN for breakfast on Sunday. As we were waiting to be seated. we stood outside when a group of uniformed military arrived to the same restaurant. As they gathered and chatted among themselves waiting also, I stopped to take note of them. Both men and women, mostly young, they stood in a circle laughing and sharing their day, while I sat in awe that these people willingly signed up to protect the country I live in.
The story, however, happens here. There was a family nearby us as well, and I could overhear them speaking. Their conversations told me they were a patriotic family as well, and respected our military as my family does. Their child asked if she could tell them thank you in person, and the family agreed. So as this family rose to leave, they approached the uniformed group to speak.
This was not unusual for me, as we have taught my youngest nephew Justin to tell armed forces, and first responders, thank you for their service. The mother spoke, and the group turned to acknowledge her. The mom said something like, "She wants to say something to you all if she may." The child had her head down, and when she looked up, she was crying. Great big tears were falling from her little eyes In one swoop motion, she ran to the nearest personnel and grabbed their leg, hugged them so tightly, and cried. She was so full of emotion that she couldn't speak.
She was not the only one. I sat through my own teary eyes and watched others wipe their eyes too.
It was one of the most genuine displays of gratefulness I have ever witnessed...and it was from a child about 4 years old.
THIS. This is what Memorial Day is about. It is remembering those who served, like my father in the US National Guard and my uncle in the US Navy. My grandfather's served too. It's also about honoring those who still serve.
We are a patriotic family, and I am proud to say I am an American.
Thank you ALL for service!