It’s a very special Memorial Day this year in Pennsylvania, as the unofficial start of summer coincides with the lifting of most state restrictions that have been in place for over a year due to the COVID pandemic. -19.
Each year around this time we wonder how to make the official purpose of the holiday a solemn day of commemoration of America’s jibe of the war dead with its popular status as the end of a long weekend kicking off. sending a few months of sun and fun.
Today’s circumstances present a clear way to connect the seemingly conflicting ways of dealing with this opportunity. After all, the men and women who died in the service of our country did so to defend our freedom. And the hardships of the past 14 months or so have reminded us that freedom is not something to be taken for granted.
Our ability to do so many things that we love and, in many cases, even to continue our livelihoods has been taken away by a virus that has not been seen in a century. So many of us wanted to be with our friends, enjoy music or a game, or even something as simple as hugging a grandchild.
Now, thanks to the heroes of a different kind of warfare – the frontline medical personnel who did vital work under devastating conditions, the essential workers who took great risks to keep our nation functioning, and the scientists who have developed vaccines at an astonishing rate – we are at the point where it is safer to come close again.
Let’s never take anything for granted again, and remember that the freedom and prosperity we normally enjoy are the result of the great sacrifices of millions of Americans who have served in the defense of their country. Today we focus on those who died in this courageous pursuit.
Keep in mind that changing the rules doesn’t just mean you can have a backyard barbecue crowd. This means that communities can bring back the parades and ceremonies that usually mark this important holiday but which could not be held a year ago. Please consider attending one of these events if possible, or at least take time over the holiday season to reflect on the deep meaning of the occasion and express your gratitude for those who have served our nation. with so much courage.
It is worth rethinking the commemoration of last year and how the pandemic has made many of us more easily break our loneliness and mark Memorial Day solemnity as a time of reverence, of commemoration and recognition of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We have the time and perhaps more desire than usual to take a break and offer a simple thank you to the men and women whose lives have been lost.
Beyond today, remember that Americans who served did so for one nation. The military so often brings together people from different regions, backgrounds and perspectives. Not only do they learn to live and work together, but they are a winning fighting force and often become lifelong friends.
With that in mind, let’s work to move away from the vitriol that is so dividing us right now. People with opposing views don’t have to agree on everything, but they don’t have to hate each other either.
If current trends continue, we run the real risk of destroying our country from within and denying the efforts of so many who have protected our country from external threats. Nothing could be more disrespectful to those we honor on Remembrance Day.
Remember that without their sacrifice, we would not be the nation that we are, equipped and able to overcome the challenges this pandemic has presented. We do well to honor this sacrifice today and always. A return to a semblance of national unity and mutual respect is an excellent place to start.