Celebrating Memorial Day: Why It’s More Than a BBQ to Me

What do you think of when you hear someone say “Happy Memorial Day”?

Though my dad was a veteran, I honestly never realized the meaning behind Memorial Day until I was at least 18. When I would hear someone ask me about my Memorial Day plans or hear someone exclaim, “Happy Memorial Day,” two things would come to mind:

1. NO SCHOOL! Sweeeeettt!

2. Family BBQ, Mmmm!

It’s not that I was ungrateful for those who had sacrificed their lives for my freedom; I just didn’t think about or know what Memorial Day really meant. I didn’t know anyone personally who lost his or her life for my freedom, so it was hard to truly understand the sacrifice given.

This was the day my husband came home for leave from Afghanistan.

While I was in college, however, I started dating a handsome soldier, who I later went on to marry. He forever changed my life AND the way I view Memorial Day.

After six years of the military life, I now know faces that I place with the names of those soldiers who gave their lives. So, Memorial Day is not just a BBQ to me anymore; it’s personal. I know the veteran who has a permanent brain injury that he, his wife, and kids will have to endure for the rest of their lives. I am friends with a couple of young widows who lost their husbands to IEDs in the war. They were men who were so young, with little ones at home. They had plans to go to Disney World and/or Hawaii (places we may choose for a family vacation) upon their return, but they never made it home. I have seen my husband traumatized when his battle buddy’s family chose to take him off of life support after an injury sustained from the war. I knew the class clown who hated awkward silence and had slightly inappropriate humor, but gave his life in a heartbeat that we may be free. So, whether you know anyone personally or not, it should be personal to you because they sacrificed with YOU in mind. These are my friends, and each of them is forever in my heart.

These people at dinner at my house. They went to church with my family. They encouraged our family when we had tough times and helped us laugh off the bad days. If they were here now, there are two things they would want you to do:

Celebrate Being Free. Have that family BBQ and enjoy every minute! Laugh until you cry, sleep in, cherish the day off, get a little sunburnt, and eat until your belly hurts. Freedom is a blessing; so celebrate this day! If the steaks burn, the children act up, or you eat WAY too much, it is still a GOOD day, ya’ll!

Cherish Your Loved Ones. On Memorial Day especially, hug those around you a little tighter, tell them “I love you” more than once, and appreciate the little things. Do something special with your family that you normally don’t have time to do. Go fishing, enjoy a family walk, go camping, or just rent a movie. Take your family to one of these FREE fun Memorial Day celebrations/events!

I know, I know . . . I said two things. However, there’s a third thing I would like you to do as well:

Remember Those Who Gave Their Lives. This can be as simple as explaining to your child why we celebrate Memorial Day, asking a veteran about his or her experiences, praying for a soldier that you know, running to remember at the Fort Worth Memorial Day Run at Trinity Park, visiting or volunteering at your local VFW or American Legion. These heroes are real, and their lives should be personal to all of us. Also, remember the wives, children, parents, and families of those who gave their lives. Their lives were forever changed due to the sacrifice that was given by their loved ones. You can bless them with a meal, a thank-you note, or some flowers if you happen to know them. If you don’t know them personally, pray for them. They will definitely appreciate it.

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Be proud, ya’ll! In America, we have courageous and brave soldiers who are willing to sacrifice for our freedom without exception. If they could tell you one final thing today, I know they would say that they have NO REGRETS and they are PROUD of the sacrifice they gave. So, stand a little taller today and BE PROUD. Have that family BBQ, celebrate being free, and remember!

 

Shannon
Though Shannon, a Mississippi girl at heart, and her husband, Paul, met on a mission trip in Florida, they did not get together until two years later when Paul played the sad, deployed soldier card. Six years, marriage, and two kids later, and Paul is still bragging that it worked! Shannon is a fun-loving mom to one busy boy, Benjamin Riley (2), and one sweet little girl, Autumn Merci (4 months). Although Shannon moved several times while her husband was part of the Army, she now proudly calls Fort Worth home. Shannon has enjoyed adjusting to civilian life and learning to run a home on a minimal budget. Some of her favorite things include garage sale-ing, traveling to new places, trying out new recipes, watching college football, and sipping a good glass of cold, sweet tea!

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