Bruce Springsteen plays and the smell of a charcoal grill lingers around in the air, high noon has never felt so good. The pier is soaked with water and wobbles as kids run down and jump off, followed by the dog. The lake is wavy and the water seems strikingly blue today. There’s boats zipping by and neighbors waving, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?!” It is a beautiful day, a wonderful day in the USA.
However, the ambiance is different today. Within the red, white, and blue, darkness seeps from the corners of the flags. Within that darkness, there lies millions of stories, each different from one another. They’re the stories of our boys, of our troops, of our guards. They’re the stories of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their life for that flag.
Across the country, families line the streets and graves of Arlington National Cemetery. They’re honoring the fallen and giving respect to those who deserve it most. Every grave gets a red, white, and blue flag.
Our boys, our troops, and our guards are now part of that flag. There is blood, sweat, and tears in the stripes, along with last steps and breaths in the stars. There are moms and dads who never came home, and moms and dads who gave their lives so their children can be who and what they want. That flag would not be hanging without them. That flag should not be hanging without them. That flag should be given the utmost respect, because the people who fought hard and long for our freedom are represented by that flag.
Have your cookout. Play Bruce Springsteen a little louder. Enjoy the sound of kids jumping in the lake and the way the wet pier feels beneath your feet. Wave to your neighbor. Tell people you love them. But don’t forget to love your country, have that flag high because that’s the meaning of Memorial Day.