This Memorial Day has to mean more
Sitting outside with my family taking in the warmth of the sun, enjoying a walk, run and swim, it’s easy, as it is many Memorial Day holidays, to forget the reason many of us get to enjoy a three day weekend in the first place.
Every year, there are articles, blogs and no lack of opinions that remind us to return to the true meaning of Memorial Day – a call (if not that loud) to remember and honor the thousands of Americans who perished while serving a greater common good in defense and servitude to the United States.
This Memorial Day, has to mean more, though.
The fundamental gaping hole that still exists between glamorizing the strength and fortitude that compels many to enlist in our armed forces is still miles separated from the reality of what happens when they return home, often with experiences that present as physical disablements, mental health issues or both.
True, we have Veteran’s day to honor our Veterans and Memorial Day is to honor those who never made it back. But, the truth is, many of our living veterans are dying a slow death, relegated to the margins, still. Many started out in disenfranchised communities to begin with and the promise of a potential “leap-frogging” to a more hopeful life never manifested. Our record of taking care of these Veteran’s has much to be desired. It’s not far from how we are taking care of our essential workers today.
That’s exactly why this Memorial Day has to mean more. In my opinion, the chasm between servant of our country and “essential worker” is getting blurrier and blurrier. We have a country that still is largely functioning on a daily basis – from the meals we eat through the care we receive all the way onto the security we enjoy – on the backs of people who have not been afforded the same economic, educational or societal opportunities than many of us have.
So, what to do about it? The first thing is you have to vote. The people who are in charge are more and more not the same social status as the ones for which their laws are being developed and decisions being made. We are not doing enough and continue to not do enough.
This Memorial Day has to mean more because we have essential workers who feel like veterans and many of whom, we may be memorializing soon without their own holiday.
The sunlight on this holiday weekend must serve more than acquiring a nice bronze tan to welcome in the summer. It must broaden a light on the inequities that permeate our country and can no longer be ignored.
This Memorial Day, it’s time to start talking about things that matter and as we socially distance, even as we start to “reopen” as a society, let’s not think there is a “back to normal”. Normal only worked for some of us. I’m willing to sacrifice. It’s my turn. Voting. Writing. Speaking. No longer apologizing.
It’s not nearly enough. It’s a start.
Our most vulnerable citizens are often the ones being taken advantage of by false promises and platitudes. Let those be built on the backs of others but not you or me.
Until then, thanks to all those who work to keep us safe, fed, cared for and healthy, regardless of whether we agree on politics or not. You are essential.
Until next time,