Moment of Reflection: Memorial Day
BY ALEXANDER ALEX, LT. COL., USAF, MSC (RET) DIRECTOR, VETERAN HEALTH PROGRAM, LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK
Americans across the Lehigh Valley, and across the nation, will be getting together this weekend to mark the official beginning of summer, and hopefully our triumphal gains against the COVID-19 enemy among us. We will be celebrating with the traditional focus on a three-day weekend, family, friends, outdoor fun, games and BBQs – and we should! There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for.
Part of that thankfulness is to men and women who have died while in military service to our nation. Memorial Day was established in 1868 after the Civil War and serves as a day to remember those who died during that conflict and since. The official moment of remembrance is at 3 p.m., where all Americans are intended to reflect upon the sacrifices made by our military men and women who have lost their lives in defense of our nation – the true purpose of Memorial Day. Many of our old traditions have been lost over the years to remind us of this justly important day of remembrance. However, we now have, in the past year, a new way to realize as a nation the importance of freedom and what sacrifice can mean.
Over the past year we all witnessed firsthand how freedoms can be restricted by a virus (an unseen enemy). We have realized how these freedoms are fragile and can be lost quickly. Now imagine losing those freedoms that we believe to be enduring on a permanent basis. If those men and women, our American champions of our Republic and Constitution whose lives we remember today, didn’t serve, we would be living without our liberty. However, unlike the present crisis, that liberty would never return. I couldn’t be more thankful for their service and their love of country that they accepted death.
Thomas Jefferson once commented, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots.” Today, take time to remember their sacrifices, celebrate their memory and appreciate the gift of freedom.