In my homespun family, the term ‘Memorial Day’ never quite caught on. The name assigned to it originally was ‘Decoration Day’, and is, to us and many others, the title most appropriate. Since its inception on the heels of the Civil War, this remembrance of our military personnel who lost their lives serving our country has been recognized and practiced broadly, although informally. This is because it wasn’t until 1971 that it was finally designated as an official national holiday to be observed on the last Sunday in May under the moniker of ‘Memorial Day’. World War II Medal of Honor recipient and U.S. Senator of Hawaii Daniel Inouye worked for many of his 49 years career in the senate to restore the original May 30th date of the holiday. It was his contention that the official date obscures the sacred meaning of the holiday, competing as it does with the unofficial first weekend of summer when pent-up children and adults alike storm the unlocked gates of closed-for-the-season swimming pools and other open-air recreations in lieu of spending the day at cemeteries.
By virtue of its nature, probably the major repository of a country’s heroes is its military, heroes in one way or another in its largest sense. A hero is defined as a person who can solve a problem or problems other people cannot solve. This left-brain, bare-bones, and pragmatic one-liner seems patently rationalistic to me, barren the full-bodied status a hero has earned and deserves. It has been suggested that an emotional and/or spiritual need for heroes is inborn in human beings. These necessary beings to whom we look up not only solve the seemingly unsolvable for us, but also provide us with inspiration to keep on keeping on during trying times, to demolish barriers in our journey to greater heights, and to overcome our antipathy toward others. In these ways, heroes satisfy a basic requirement found in the nature of human beings.
When I look upon the gravestone of a military veteran, rather than perceiving it as a marker of something lifeless, I see within it a hero embodied as an embryo of peace. How can anyone walk among the more than 400,000 headstones of our military veterans at Arlington National Cemetery and fail to hear Heaven’s call for Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward all of Humankind? Oh yes, to me each one of those pristine rectangles of white stone enshrines an embryo of peace.
Award-winning artist and author, blogger, editor, and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
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