Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service. First enacted by formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War – it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.
It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family get-togethers, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season, and Labor Day its end.
Today in our Nation’s Capital, we honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country with over 400,000 members of Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally to call for the government's recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs).
While researching information for this article, I found this truly remarkable post that I want to share with you. Thank you Mellissa Walker for your wonderful words!
Memorial Day 2011: Celebrating true strength By Melissa Walker/Parental Guidance
What defines strength? Who do you picture when you think of a strong person? Is it the professional athlete, the bodybuilders, Arnold Schwarzenegger (maybe not so much, these days)? As a fitness professional, I’m often trying to help my clients of all ages, including myself, “get stronger.” I’m even in my 3rd week of Kettlebell Muscle, a 12 week program designed to make me stronger. I see my colleagues’ posts on facebook or youtube of their new accomplishments and feats of strength, and they are usually quite impressive.
Then a tornado rips through the middle of our country and it becomes quite obvious to me that how much weight I can press over my head really doesn’t matter too much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for us to push ourselves to reach new goals. I’m well aware that it takes heart and dedication to reach optimal performance. However, in the grand scheme of things, lifting something heavy is really not how I want to define strength.
With the devastating tornado as well as Memorial Day coming up, the following people come to mind when I think of strength.
1. Our soldiers being sent off to fight in a desert, many for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times to protect our freedom.
2. Those affected by the tornado in Missouri as well as Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. People who have lost everything, but are just grateful to be alive. I am always amazed by the strength and courage that is exemplified after a disaster. 9-11, Katrina, Japan, all devastating tragedies, yet time and time again, we hear stories of extreme bravery. What does it take to rise above acts of terrorism and catastrophic natural disasters? It takes hope, of course, but it also takes a tremendous amount of strength.
3. The moms, dads, wives, and husbands of the soldiers. Undoubtedly, they are immensely proud of their loved ones, but scared for their safe return. As a mom, I can’t imagine living everyday worried about my child on the other side of the world. Each day must seem like an eternity until they are home safe. Strength? Doesn’t get any stronger than that.
4. My Grandpa who just celebrated his 85th birthday yesterday. A veteran of World War II, he enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, after his father signed his enlistment papers. Can you imagine a 16-year-old today wanting to get on a ship to Japan in order to protect his country? Like many veterans, my grandpa enlisted because he loved his country and wanted to protect his loved ones. Thank you Grandpa, and all of our veterans, for your strength.
So, I’ll continue to challenge myself and accomplish new goals. But, all the while, I’ll be sending my strength in the form of thoughts and prayers to those affected by tragedy. I send my gratitude to those who have fought and continue to fight to protect our country. Thank you moms and dads for raising brave sons and daughters. Wishing everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day.