Memorial Day is a holiday that has, in some ways, lost its identity.
Where once it was strictly a holiday to honor the U.S. service members who have lost their lives in defending our freedom, it has now taken on the dubious honor of being the "official" start of summer--which means a long weekend to take care of home improvement projects and to hit those car sales for a great deal, if one is to believe the majority of the ads in the media.
For most people, it means a long weekend to hopefully spend time with family and friends. Yes, I know that Memorial Day deserves far more respect than being relegated to an official "first cookout of the summer" weekend, but let's think for just a moment about the men and women who have given that ultimate sacrifice for us.
What do you suppose were their thoughts as they fought on those battlefields? Home, no doubt. Family, friends, a campfire, a home-cooked meal, an impromptu softball game. A deep, dark fear that they would never enjoy those simple pleasures again, that their call to service would require them to make the ultimate sacrifice in a place far from home.
I rather doubt any service member who gave all ever had their last thought be of how much more money they wish they'd made; how they wished they'd had a faster car or fancier home; how much they really wanted to have visited Paris or Hawaii before they died. I'm sure that all that mattered to them, at the very end, was to have been able to spend one more moment with those that they loved, even if it was eating a charred hot dog, drinking too-sweet lemonade, and disputing a blown call at second base.
On this Memorial Day, I hope everyone got to spend time with those they loved and cherished the freedom that was won for us at so heavy a price to be able to do this every chance we get and not just on "special occasions"... because every day we're alive and with the people we love is a special occasion, even if it's in our own backyard instead of the Bahamas.
So raise a glass in honor of those who gave their all for us. They won't care if it's too-sweet lemonade, warm flat beer, or champagne... just make sure you enjoy it with gratitude.