Remembering The Fallen After Memorial Day

It’s the day after Memorial Day and I’m still thinking of those that gave their life for us. Maybe it’s because this year it hits a bit closer to home since one of our own is in the military. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and have a better understanding of why we dedicate this day to the fallen. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the word “happy” annoys the crap out of me when the words “Memorial Day” follow because there’s nothing happy about losing a loved one.

I said a lot of prayers yesterday for the fallen and their families along with prayers for those that are currently active in all branches of our military. Thoughts and feelings of sadness flooded me, but at the same time, feelings of pure joy and gratitude swarmed over me knowing that someone I never even knew cared so much about this country and our freedom that he/she laid down their life for me and you.

I must admit, it was rather nice seeing strangers on social media and around town proudly wearing red, white, and blue instead of seeing the flag being burned and trampled on. It was amazing to hear several people mention “One nation, under GOD...” because we have the freedom to do so. It reminded me of what Memorial Day was like when we were kids - Momma would buy us shirts from Old Navy and we’d take family photos, eat popsicles, and play outside with our cousins all day long. We were proud and not a single person blinked an eye at the idea of this notion. Good times I tell ya! The thing is, I’m not sure when it became unpopular to be proud of being a part of the greatest country in the world. I still believe in this country, God, and our freedom, and I think it’s cool to speak up about those things. I think if I don't (or we don't), then who will?

On another tangent, Memorial Day is an incredible way for everyone in this country, despite your color, faith, profession, immigrant or not, to come together on this day to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice. In a time where it seems like we are all drifting apart, I was happy to see everyone come together and, for once, not notice horrible atrocities on the news of people fighting against one another because they disagreed on something.

The question I kept wondering yesterday was do we really remember the fallen after the BBQ is over, the drinks and food have been disposed of, and your family leaves to go back home? Do we really remember what they’ve done for us or do we use this one day to “live our best life” and then go back to minding our own business? I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend this day celebrating with family or friends because we have the freedom to do so, but y’all, freedom isn’t free. We, as a country, do not get these RIGHTS & PRIVILEGES for free. (Yes - these are RIGHTS & PRIVILEGES that we have and we must be proud of them and use them, but we must use them with integrity, grit, and thoughtfulness.) We live in the greatest country in the world because those men and women laid down their lives for us and for those that will precede us in the future.

So the question I pose to you is, what will you do to truly honor the fallen? What will you do, not just today, but every day moving forward to respect and appreciate those who aren’t home with their families because they are currently serving this great country? Will you remember them for one day out of the entire year and possibly give them a handshake in passing?

OR….Will you live a life that’s worth living? Will you make them proud and their last days in a war worth it by pushing yourself to be your best every single day? Will you attain your crazy, outrageous goals because you have the freedom to dream big and live a life of which you choose? Will you spread kindness like wildfire and be a proud American who can respectfully agree or disagree with other’s beliefs while still standing strong in your own beliefs? Will you shout out how thankful you are to be able to believe in whatever it is that you believe because we are free to speak of our religious beliefs without being punished by death? Will you use your legs and arms to be the fittest you can be because you didn’t have to sacrifice your limbs for your country?

The point is we have a CHOICE to live how we want to live because other's made the choice to protect us by giving their all. We only have one life to live, so please, don’t let the fallen and those who are currently serving die in vain because you CHOOSE to take your freedom for granted. Appreciate those who gave their life for you and appreciate the cards you have been dealt in this life, make the most of it, work hard, and do your absolute best. It's truly the least we can do for them.