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Memorial Day

Memorial Day A Time of Gratitude on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

Unrest, biases, and so many battles have raged in a time already burdened by a pandemic the likes we have not seen before in our lifetime. As we take a breath on Memorial Day 2021, we reflect not just on this past year but of years, decades, and further into the rearview mirror. We gratefully recall the men, women, brothers, sisters, wives, uncles, and others who made the ultimate sacrifice for those of us they would never meet. All died on the battleground of freedom to allow us to be here in this time and place, in a moment of gratitude for the sacrifices of so many.

Gratitude to those that went before us to serve a cause greater than themselves is more important than ever today. It allows you the freedom to live where you want. Choose to put a mask on or not during a pandemic. It allows you to stand up and join your voice with others for causes you feel are unjust, need addressing, or matter to you personally. Freedoms we possess because of the military brethren who have gone into every battle this country waged against injustice, securing our borders, and even helping humanitarian efforts, allow us more than we often recognize.

In the unrest in this country today lies a major truth about freedom, which we all have been granted. That truth is the ability to voice our beliefs due to freedom of speech. Free ourselves through voting out those we disagree with in politics without fear of personal reprisal. March in the streets for causes we hold near and dear, and most of all try to carve out a life of opportunity and benefits not granted to many in other countries. No one said freedom would be easy, strife free and without worries. What freedom allows is us to decide how we choose to address that which we face.

Memorial Day is a uniquely American-only holiday in which we allow ourselves one day each year to bow our heads, observe a moment of silence and reflection for so many lives already laid down in our pursuit of freedom. We want to give thanks to those for their service to us and to this amazing country we live in. We want to remember the families they left behind, to surge into battle and give more of themselves than most of us will ever be asked to sacrifice. We all should be grateful for the amazing things we have in our lives.

Despite a tough year of isolation due to the pandemic, shortages of things we consider essential, learning a new way of communication via technology, and so many other concerns for our health and families – we survived! In fact, we flourished. We creatively came up with new hobbies to undertake, businesses to start, and ways to engage with all those people we could not meet in person. And yes, on the other side of things, we raged against injustice, we rallied through a tumultuous voting season with a new president installed, and hoped that a new normal would soon dawn.

Our pains in this country are far from over. There will be conversations, movements, and further work to do on many fronts. Today though, we should all bow our heads in gratitude for a moment, nod at that serviceman you see out someplace, and tip our hats at the flags, graves, and memorials of those that served to pave a path to today. For freedom here will allow more battles to rage, diversity to be granted, and the fight for justice to continue as a new generation of heroes stand tall to defend us all. Happy Memorial Day – thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those we remember today. Your service is not forgotten and always appreciated!

Pictures courtesy of Unsplash

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