That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”
- ‘We Shall Keep The Faith,’ by Moina Michael, November 1918
I've never fought in a war. As all humans, I have an innate fear of pain, of death. I don’t understand war, but for that matter, who does? Do soldiers? Do politicians? Self-preservation is an autonomic response; sacrifice, honor and personal conviction are not. The latter are the traits groomed into each soldier to strengthen character and resolve in the face of battle.
In regard to war, I am weaker than I will ever care to admit, and for that reason I hold in high esteem those that fought in battle girding themselves in their hopes to preserve posterity. In their efforts, they wage a commodity more precious than imagination can hold. Like me, these brave, strong men and women were also afraid of pain and death, but managed to move through their terror to face an enemy they never personally met.
So when I think of the meaning of this Memorial Holiday, it seems trivial to preoccupy the time with a trip to the beach or a bar-b-que. Officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan and observed on the 30th of that month; Memorial Day was a solemn occasion in which flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
When the US Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, the holiday was officially moved to the last Monday in the month of May thereby insuring a three day weekend for Federal Holidays. Since then, traditional observance of the holiday has shamefully diminished to its present state.
Nowadays, the graves of many of the fallen go neglected and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Most people don’t even realize there is proper flag etiquette for this particular day (On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset).
Starting this Memorial Day I pledge to return to the time when we remembered with sincere respect those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. I think it should be kept as a day of sacred remembrance of those who died serving their country; never letting them be forgotten. If you agree that Memorial Day should have its traditional day of observance restored, please take a moment to sign the petition that will be delivered to Congress, and invite your friends and family to do the same.
As always – enjoy your life.
John Aaron Villarreal
Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
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