Today is Memorial Day, the federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Today, the last Monday of May, is the date of the holiday’s observation. May we never forget those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom!
Many of us are enjoying the day off. Some have planned cookouts or family gatherings. There are those who have traveled to see loved ones and a great majority will be visiting graves and memorial sites of those we honor today. No matter what we have planned and no matter what we may do, I pray we keep in mind the true meaning of what today means. We have the freedom of choice because of their sacrifice.
Sometimes I wonder if we really stop to think about the choices that we are privileged to make daily. We eat what we want to eat, we wear what we want to wear, and we live where we want to live. All those choices are due to the sacrifice of others. As I type this, I am also mindful that even those simple choices for some are not yet a privilege. There are further sacrifices to make to live in the land of the free!
We are in the middle of a pandemic, and we still have the choice of whether we want to wear a mask, social distance and get vaccinated. We should think about the soldiers whose only choice was to fight to defend this country. We should think about those who left the luxury of their homes, the presence of their family and loved ones, the opportunity to pursue other hopes and dreams to fight in foreign lands so that we could enjoy a multitude of freedom and daily choices.
My immediate family does not have a grave to visit today. I have two brothers who made the choice as very, young men to serve in the Air Force. They have each since retired, but not before having the opportunity to travel abroad in times of peace and war. They both served our country in a manner that made our family proud. My Mother was able to attend both their retirement services and watch them both be presented with an American flag. Today I think about the families who attended services of their loved ones, who said their goodbyes to remains in a casket with the American flag adorning it. Those loved ones were presented a flag on behalf of their lost loved ones who fought the ultimate fight and paid the ultimate price.
Today may we truly honor those whose memory promised us a future. We live in the land of the free, because of the brave. May we think about those families who will visit grave sites and memorials to place flowers on graves and find names on monuments. May we keep them in our prayers as we enjoy the freedom to celebrate, to honor and to observe while they are left only with the memories of their loved ones. Today be thankful! Today recognize the price and honor those who were willing to make the choice to pay it!
Veronica Smith-Creer is the Mayor of El Dorado. She can be reached at [email protected]