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Every Day Should Be Memorial Day

I’d like to encourage you to read Bithead’s Ramble last night [1] regarding Memorial Day. We have a few different days each year, some more formal than others, where we can all stop and thank those that have served and today still serve us in the Armed Forces, along with the familes that have sacrificed so they might fight, and some who never see them again.

I missed mentioning Armed Forces Day last Sunday, we also have Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Flag Day, the anniversaries of Pearl Harbor, Victory in Europe, Victory in the Pacific, and a few others.

Using these days as opportunities to recognize and thank our friends and family who serve is certainly helps act as a reminder of the greater good these people seek to protect. We should all engage in giving thanks for those willing to give up their lives for us on these days.

Sometimes I am afraid we still don’t do enough. Especially when public sentiment is as strongly negative about military action as it naturally becomes when such action is as difficult to understand (such as the currently extended mopping up in Iraq), there seems to be general air of animosity and antagonism toward the military and especially the individuals who serve. During the Viet Nam era, it was outright harassing, protesting and personal attacks against members of the military as has been the case in England this past year… surprisingly the amount of angst expressed in public toward military members has been limited here in the US recently, but there is still an apparent quiet on the part of some as if one does not know how to treat members of the military because we suspect them of awful crimes against humanity.

I expect that this weekend we will all cheerfully express our appreciation to those that do serve and have served. But what about the week following? And after that? Will our appreciation wane on days when we aren’t puffing our collective chests together?

I suggest we all consider how we interact with active-duty military, reservists, veterans and all of their families on a day-to-day basis. I have a good friend who served during peace-time and never saw action. But I try to remind him regularly that I appreciate what he did. Even though he never saw action, I believe that his service was a key part of keeping our nation safe nonetheless.

It is a bit sad that some military members are being deployed overseas this coming weekend, at a time when families like to use the extended weekend to do special things together like gardening or traveling. Hopefully, it is also a time for some to return home as well.

I have two family members who are active-duty. I don’t think I adequately convey to them how deeply I appreciate their sacrifice. Lacking in that, how much less do I show my appreciation to those who are not in my family?

I don’t think it needs to be an embarrassingly (to the recipient) overt statement of this appreciation on every encounter, but perhaps we can spare a special look, a special gesture, a special handshake, for those whom we know are involved in military service past or present, or their families, so that every time you greet them, they know you have that deep appreciation for them. And it doesn’t hurt to have overt signs, be they bumper magnets/stickers, pins, signs, flags, etc. But somehow, each of us can create a daily reminder that we appreciate those who serve.

And who knows, perhaps that attention may help stir another to make the same choice.