Memorial Day about paying respects, saying ‘thank you’

Published 8:10 pm Friday, May 24, 2019

Long after the parades, cookouts and get-togethers have wound down, the impact of Memorial Day will still resonate with me.

Pride in our country and community always swells to among its highest levels as the holiday nears and many prepare for the activities that surround the long weekend.

Lawns are finely manicured. Flags are hung in nearly every conceivable location. Businesses put a little extra effort into making their stores appealing. Houses are spic-and-spanned to create an attractive impression of the place we call home.

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And that is all great, creating a profound sense of community.

Still, Memorial Day is one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly observed holidays. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was originally meant to be a reflective day where each and every American could sit back and offer a heartfelt “thank you” to the brave men and women who paid — or are still paying — the high price for our freedom.

Our nation was built on the sacrifices of these individuals who have fought in countless wars and conflicts across the globe. Without these brave souls, our world would likely have a drastically different look.

While most of the country will be enjoying the long weekend, many will be reminded of friends lost and sacrifices made.

I hope to take a few minutes to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday, as well as capture that sense of patriotism and pride and carry it over into the rest of the year.

It has also grown to be about honoring all of our lost loved ones.

And that is OK, too. But as you visit cemeteries and memorials, pause for a moment to cleanup or decorate a soldier’s grave.

The personal rewards will likely far outweigh other memories you create.

Our entire nation and all the principles, freedoms and luxuries we hold dear came at a high cost. Many men and women paid the highest price and made the ultimate sacrifice to provide us these. Even more are away from their families and loved ones right this second doing the same.

Memorial Day does not have to be a morbid or sad time. It should be a time of thanks, reflection and understanding of the real reason we can come together for parades and other celebrations.

We owe our fallen soldiers that proper respect.

Each person can do this in his or her own way; the spirit of Memorial Day can stay with us in all our daily lives.

True patriotism doesn’t last one day, and it means more than just waving a flag as a parade rolls by.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Advocate-Messenger and Danville Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at