Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect, Remember, and Pay Tribute
As we approach Memorial day I think back to a time before marrying my spouse, who recently retired from the United States Air Force, about how little insight I had into what it meant to be part of a military family. That changed quickly once we moved on to a military base.
To say the immersion was overwhelming at first would be a huge understatement. Once moved in, I quickly saw how critically important it is for military families to support one another. Connections to our new neighbors were nearly immediate; and that barrier to establishing a common bond, which often goes untapped for many years (if ever) in civilian neighborhoods, ceased to exist.
There was, however, a definite language barrier. I did not know military speak, and it took me some time (still learning actually) to understand all the acronyms military members use in place of actual words.
Another element of military installation living that caught me off guard was that at every night, Monday through Friday, Taps sounded at 9pm local time (2100 hours in military speak). Taps, the final call of the day, is played to indicate lights out. It marks quiet time on the base. It is loud, but more than anything it is quite moving. The first time I heard it, I cried. Like many other, when I hear Taps, various emotions are triggered.
Taps at military funerals honors fallen military members; members are expected to stand at attention and salute for the entirety of the song.
Memorial Day was created with the explicit purpose of remembering and honoring those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice… dying while in service.
Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in the years following the Civil War becoming an official federal holiday in 1971. While many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades, unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.
Over the holiday weekend, many Americans will camp, boat, fish, hike, and grill with family and friends. Of course, Memorial Day isn’t just an excuse for a three-day weekend, it’s also a time to reflect, remember and pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed everything so that we can have the freedom to pursue happiness and live in a safe, secure place.
I invite you to take a minute to play Taps in honor of all who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.