Hopefully, this article finds you enjoying a well-earned, and well-deserved, break from work. It is the unofficial start of summer (although for much of the fanbase of this team, it has been summer for some time). Pools, if they have not already opened up, will soon do so. Schools are either out or winding down. Summer plans, vacations, and the knowledge that we are but weeks away from the start of a new NFL season and all that it brings dominate the thoughts of many.
Yet, this weekend is set aside for another purpose. Since the post-Civil War years, the US has found time to honor those that fought and died in service of the country. While many parts of the nation claim to be the origin place for Memorial Day, and the timing and name (once called Decoration Day) has undergone various changes, we are quite set in the time and purpose. Since 1971, Memorial Day is officially set for the last Monday in May and is a full Federal Holiday (banks/government offices/stock market closed).
All such occasions are unique and resonate for different reasons. Memorial Day 2022 is the first Memorial Day since US operations came to an abrupt end in Afghanistan. The “Longest War” in US history cost America the lives of 2,333 of its military and Department of Defense civilians. While those fatality figures pale in comparison with other US actions, those deaths sting no less for those loved ones left behind as well as the American psyche. The worst of circumstances brought the US into that fight, and amid great successes and heart-wrenching setbacks, the 20 year campaign is over.
Yet, while the war in Afghanistan is over, the US military is not siting idly by. US forces are still engaged in operations across the globe, ranging from counter-terrorism operations to deterrence and training missions. There are no shortage of challenges to the US and its interests, and the US defense apparatus is on-guard to face those challenges. The all-volunteer force is driven to meet those challenges. Yet, facing those challenges and conditions can call for the ultimate sacrifice. Military personnel are still in harm’s way, and deaths in such actions still occur, even if they don’t get high levels of press coverage.
Additionally, those serving this nation take on many forms. As much as those soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines/guardians/coast-guardsmen take their place defending the people of this nation, so to do others. Public servants of all shapes do their part, and many also sacrifice as much. The recent pandemic brought out service and dedication from medical staff, who faced so much, and suffered their own brutal numbers of casualties and death. Memorial Day can and should be as much for those who gave their lives for this country, regardless of uniform.
While certain that many who read these words are cognizant of the meaning and impact of this holiday, it is always good to step back and take a moment to consider the why for Memorial Day. That most can celebrate it as the “unofficial” kickoff for summer, or time for a great weekend, is a testament to the success of those who gave all to ensure it. Yes, this nation is not perfect, nor are those who served Gods and Saints. They were and are people who took and oath to support and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. Many served and lived, but many upheld that oath to the ultimate price. We do not worship the dead, but we respect and remember their sacrifice, as much as we respect those who are still serving, regardless of political, religious or cultural affiliations.
So, on this last full weekend in May and the last Monday of the month, let us celebrate, and let us remember. Yet, let us all do that responsibly. Cherish the time with family and loved ones. Get some much-needed rest. Yet, be smart and clear-thinking. We at Battle Red Blog want all of our readers to come back from the Memorial Day break the same, if not in better shape.