USMCMemorial Day. It’s the unofficial start to summer.  The bbq’s, the beach, the traffic.  But do you know what Memorial Day is really about? Memorial Day, since the time of the Civil War, is a day set aside in remembrance of the members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service to this country.

I have to admit.  Until this year, I hadn’t given much thought to why we celebrated Memorial Day.  I was just glad for a long weekend.  But this year, things are different.  This year, Memorial Day falls during Fleet Week here in New York.  And that means that all over the city, there are thousands of actual members of the armed forces walking around.  And you know how they all look?  Young. They look like somebody’s kids.  Sure there’s the occasional officer who looks like a bona fide grown up.  But mostly, they look like innocents — innocence. They look so happy, and hopeful, and full of promise.  And they’re all serving their country — willing to fight for it – for us.

Memorial Day commemorates people just like them. Young people from generations past who served our country, and gave their lives for it.  It commemorates people from this generation — 4400 of them who gave their lives in Iraq, and 1086 of them who died in Afghanistan. 

These young people  in New York for Fleet Week  enjoying the weather, the freedom, the sights — – they could be next.  It’s a sobering thought,  and one I hope you give at least a moment to this Memorial Day.