The days preceeding Memorial Day are often filled with the anticipation of a nice, long, relaxing weekend coupled with BBQ's and parties. Publicized also are the various memorial events including services and parades in different municipalities. But does the typical American think much about what Memorial Day actually means, set aside the fervent bustle of life to dwell in thought for some moments on the sacrifice of others?
In an article posted yesterday on Seattlepi.com, "Carolyn Jessup, who is 53 and homeless, typically doesn't think much about Memorial Day. But she read a story about an American soldier killed in Iraq that brought her to tears" (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/364665_memorialday27.html). Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day and first observed on May 30th 1868, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. And although it may seem sad in spirit, it is also about reconciliation, about coming together to honor the lives and valiant efforts of the fallen.
So who are these people that we honor? The fallen soldiers were historically often those that could not afford to complete higher education, of impoverished families, and without a substantial paying job. So they entered the military to make their way in life. Many of these individuals may have been educated in urban schools which may not have provided a high quality education or prepared students for competetive jobs. So this may be a bridge to the association between these soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us and the urban education system.
To me personally, this holiday is not only about honoring the stereotypically male soldiers that have fought in wars, but also the women, men, and children that have died and lost their lives to a war or war-related violence. Remember them all for their sacrifice, consciously made or not.