Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day? Other than one is in May and one is in November, I mean.
When I was teaching high school history, I always made it a point to teach the origins behind these important days.
Memorial Day, as the name suggests, is the US national holiday in which we remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our great nation.
It began during the Civil War as Decoration Day, when women would decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers and other mementos. As the years went on and the US was involved in more wars, the holiday adapted and in the late 1960′s, was officially assigned to the last Monday in May when the nation would remember all service members who had died in any war in our nation’s history.
Veteran’s Day, as the name suggests, honors all active and retired veterans of all wars in our history. This date came about from Armistice Day of WWI, (November 11, 1918, 11 am) when an armistice (cease-fire) was declared, eventually leading to the end of the war in 1919.
As time goes on, it seems that the reasons behind Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veteran’s Day have become somewhat mashed together and given Americans a reason to have a day off of work and a cookout.
I’m okay with that. I love cookouts. I love the American tradition of hotdogs and hamburgers by the pool. It’s fun. It’s America.
I’m even mostly okay with the confusion between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, because both honor those who have served.
I am not okay with the general public not knowing the history behind our Independence Day celebrations of July 4th. You might be surprised how many people do not have a basic understanding of this momentous day. Yeah, it’s actually different from the other two, but I’ll save that history for another post.
One of the lessons I want to instill into my children is patriotism.
I don’t believe enough people in America actually appreciate America anymore. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our understanding of exactly what it means to be free. We’ve lost our sense of duty–we’ve lost our sense of honor.
There was a time when young men stood up, eager to serve. Most of the teens I taught were petrified of serving in the military– the idea was laughable.
Several times I had to combat the idea that serving in the military was only for “stupid” people who couldn’t get into college.
“Do stupid people win wars?” I’d ask.
As a military brat, I have to admit, it was difficult for me to keep my cool in the classroom when this subject came up–more often than I’d like to acknowledge. (I’d like to believe people are smarter than to think the military is only for “dummies”, but alas, many are not.)
I was raised in a military home, with a tradition of military service and the idea that serving our nation was honorable, desirable, and respected.
Although my husband is not military, I want my children to grow up with this same belief.
My husband actually teaches middle school, which is another position to be greatly respected. He definitely serves his nation, folks.
My son’s great-grandfathers served in WWII. Their grandfather (my dad) served in Desert Storm. Their uncle (my brother) is currently serving his country.
The idea that standing up for the values that America was built on, what our forefathers believed in when they drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is something to be admired.
While politics seem to continue to make a mess of the values that bore this nation, I want my sons to have an understanding of where we’ve come from, our history, our traditions, and what it really means to be an American.
I want them to believe that America is great. I want them to know it. I want them to be proud of all those who came before us, establishing this great nation. I want them to be proud to be an American.
So yes, we will be cooking out hamburgers this Memorial Day.
But we’ll also be talking about what it means to serve our country. We’ll talk about military service, an option that will be their choice someday, and we will talk about how even at their young ages, we can pray for our leaders, pray for our nation, and pray for those who have served, are serving, and for the families who love them.
Share with me: What’s your favorite thing about being an American?