mem 3I have actually heard people wish me a “Happy Memorial Day.” I am aghast. What have we become? A nation of those who mark the start of summer each year by a three day Memorial weekend? My father, my husband and many assorted relatives served in the military. Many of us have at least one family member who has served. These men and women pledged to offer the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, if need be, to protect the greatest country on earth. They do not boast. They do not brag. They serve(d) with a quiet dignity and steadfastness. Much of their experience we will never hear of and even if we did, how could we possibly understand?

Yet the day has degenerated to one of blowout sales, tubing down the Salt River, catching a ball game, hosting a B-B-Q. These activities are not immoral on this day — if somehow, sometime, during the day your time is spent in recognition of the sacrifices that have been made that allow us to enjoy those activities.

How many of us fly the flag to honor their service? Or make it a point to attend a Memorial event or visit the grave of a loved one? Many of us do — but not enough. A bedrock value of this county is patriotism. It has become a dirty word in some circles. Patriotism is part love of county, part service to country and part passing that value on to our children. If they do not learn from us, who will teach them? A society that places more monetary value on a sports coach than on a college president? A society that can answer a question about a rock star but cannot tell you the names of their congressional representatives? A society that mocks the values upon which this country was founded and idolizes criminals?

Today while you participate in your chosen fun activity, please, please, stop, reflect upon this great nation and how lucky you are to live here and today if you know or meet a veteran, whether it be a stranger, relative or acquaintance, genuinely and sincerely thank him or her. Memorial Day is not a day for you. It’s a day for our military and it’s time for all of us to acknowledge them and to pay our respect for their sacrifice.