An American flag flies as a grill down the street fills the neighborhood air with a smoky scent. Kenny Chesney blares and children’s laughter echos from the backyard. A homerun cracks off a player’s bat at the ballpark, where family and friends enjoy a hot dog and a cold drink.
A competitive game of cornhole between my cousin and I ensues, and Grandpa reels in a bass off the end of the dock. Motorboat waves crash against the shoreline as tubers and skiers race around the lake. Dad tosses the football with cousin Jake, teaching him how to throw a spiral—not forgetting to mention how he was the QB on his high school team.
It is the preview of summer. Students cram for their final exams, distracted by the false feeling that summer is here. Flowers bloom and the air warms. These are traditional American examples of what people experience on Memorial Day. However, Americans often forget the true reason they are relaxing.
To some, Memorial Day means a day off, a day to relax with family and friends, and a day to go outside and enjoy the spring weather. But we need to remember that while some of us are out in a swimsuit on a boat, some are in full uniform in 90 degrees in a foreign country. While some of us are fishing off of a dock, some are getting shot at. While some drink that cold soda at a baseball game, soldiers are out in the desert with little to no water at all.
Memorial Day is an opportunity for family gatherings, baseball games, and enjoying the beautiful weather. But for me, Memorial Day means more than that. By spending time with family, Americans take advantage of the freedoms that brave men and women defend for us. On Memorial Day, we relax with that notion in mind—thankful for the opportunities and freedoms that we are given. There is no better way to remember our military and thank them for our freedom than going out and taking advantage of it.