Honor Memorial Day

I don’t get all political or step up on a soapbox hardly, if ever, but briefly bear with me just a few minutes today.

As I scrolled through Facebook all weekend I found so many posts filled with party plans, celebrations for summer and the like for this weekend, but realized that it seems so many of our country have forgotten the solemn holiday that Memorial Day really is, and should truly be.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
~Arthur Ashe

Memorial Day is a “holiday” that has been set aside to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty while serving and protecting our country.  It was first recognized as Memorial Day as women from southern states began decorating graves of the dead while mourning and recognizing the sacrifices they made for their cause beginning in about 1865.  It wasn’t too much later that women in the northern states began a similar practice in the form of a Decoration Day.

Confederate dead

Thomas D. Watkins…. My ancestor killed in Chattanooga during the Civil War and buried in the Confederate Cemetery there.  I imagine many years after the war he was remembered along with the others in this cemetery in a Memorial Day ceremony honoring the Confederate dead.

Memorial Day became a common term used by everyone in the 1880s and after World War II the informal day became a national holiday where the service dead could all be honored and remembered. Now, 70 years later, instead of honoring the sacrifice of the men and women who have served and protected our nation, it has become a day of partying BBQ’s, days on the lake and generally the kick-off of summer break.

From a young age, Audley and I have always taught our children the meaning of this day, and we have never really celebrated it.  In fact, there have been many years we have put flags on graves of family members who lost their lives in wartime and that is our Memorial Day.

confederate cemetary

Placing a flag at the Confederate Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2010. The kids were so little here!

There is a day for celebrating our nation (July 4), and honestly,  today is not it.

Revolutionary War

Putting a flag out for my 5x’s great-grandfather (a Revolutionary War soldier); buried in Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina

In honor of Memorial Day, I have put together a list of movies (some fictional tales of actual events and some based on true stories) that are great reminders of why we should say, “Honor” Memorial Day instead of Happy Memorial Day.  Maybe you can watch a few with your family as a way to instill the true meaning of this most solemn day.

7 films for memorial day

1) The Patriot (2000).  Starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger; Set in the Revolutionary War and telling the story of the sacrifices men (and even women) made so that our country could even exist!

patriot11

2) Gettysburg (1993).  With Tom Berenger and Martin Sheen this movie depicts one of the biggest battles of the Civil War.  Coincidently, Gettysburg is where some of the original Memorial Day services took place after the war.

3) Sergeant York (1941).  This movie starring Gary Cooper tells the story of Alvin York, one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I.

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4) Pearl Harbor (2001).  Starring Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett as fictional characters in the very real story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941; Pearl Harbor is still fresh in many Americans minds.

Pearl Harbor Memorial

5) Saving Private Ryan (1998). With Tom Hanks and Matt Damon the story of the invasion on Normandy Beaches and war throughout France leaves no secrecy to the loss of life for our nation.

Saving-Private-Ryan (2)

6) We Were Soldiers (2002).  Based on the true story and book by Lt. General Harold G. Moore, this movies depicts the first battle of US Forces with the North Vietnamese in November 1965.  The movies stars Mel Gibson as Hal Moore along with Greg Kinner and Sam Elliott.

vietnam-memorial-wall

Reflection by Lee Teter

7) Lone Survivor (2013).  Starring Mark Wahlburg, Lone Survivor tells the true story of a group of Navy Seals deployed to take out a Taliban leader in 2007 and the one man who survived the mission.  It’s a vivid reminder that we are still fighting and men are still putting their lives on the line for us each and every day.

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