Memorial Day was very different when my dad was still with us. It was more pure and undoubtedly more patriotic and somber. My father was a member of the Greatest Generation. Thousands of men and women put their young lives on hold and brought down Hitler and the Japanese Empire to save the free world. A monumental task by patriots who found it difficult to talk about their heroism and what it meant to the world,
When you look at history, World War II was the last victory for the Allied Forces. These young men and women, children really, were not to be beaten by a crazed German dictator and Japanese emporer. They would travel off to Europe and the Far East with one mission in mind, which was a complete victory. Mission accomplished.
This weekend, I watched the talk shows and listened to the same robotic question repeatedly asked, “what does Memorial Day mean to you?”
The answer came back each time like it was written for them. It is the day we remember the men and women who paid the ultimate price for the country they loved. They died to preserve our democracy. They are the heroes we need to thank for the country we enjoy today.
Decades ago, my father used to teach us what Memorial Day meant. He was of the generation where patriotism and love of this country were still popular and expected. The flag was still a symbol of a young nation called upon twice to save the world from evil. Men, like my dad, who were still boys when they donned their uniforms and set off to Europe or South Pacific as we fought foes on two fronts, did so voluntarily. Many lied about their age to sign up to join the fight. They went off boys, and those who came back were now men.
Veterans of WWII did not often speak about the war. They were all suffering lifelong bouts with PTSD before we even knew what that acronym meant. The atrocities they experienced were far too much to relive. Instead, they lived their lives making America the great nation they turned over to the younger generation. I am not sure they would be proud of how we preserved their gift.
My purpose is not to denigrate our present-day America. We are all aware of our faults yet cannot agree on solutions. Post-war America was unified in raising families, building our economy, getting educated, or learning a trade. Post-war America was doers. They could see the results of their efforts and could be proud. Memorial Day was their chance to remember and thank their brothers and sisters who gave their lives to make their lives possible.
I yearn for the more civil, unified country of our youth. And hope and pray that we can salvage today’s divisive society and learn to work together to make America the great country it can be rather than tear it down to build something different. I thank my dad for showing me what Memorial Day was meant to be with his deeds. That was how the Greatest Generation rolled. They didn’t talk about things. They just did them…together.
This article was first published on The Liberty Loft thelibertyloft.com