In Memoriam

Memorial Day is a time for reflecting on what we have, and what has been sacrificed in the past to ensure that we have it.

Memorial Day weekend has many meanings to many people.

To baseball fans, it signifies the coming of summer. It kicks off the mid stretch of that interminably long season and hints at the dogs days ahead, of games played in stifling heat, of teams jockeying for position, and making trades to set up that important home stretch in September. For teams like the Mariners, it is a reminder that while pennants are not won in April and May, they certainly can be lost then.

To the average sports fan, it brings the question: When in the heck will the basketball season end anyway? Have they gone year-round yet?

To the average citizen it harkens to the beginning of summer. While summer doesn’t officially start for three more weeks, Memorial Day marks the end of the traditional school year, give or take a week or so.

Memorial Day is like the green flag that starts the race to the summer vacation season, the summer movie season, and for many, the first bar-b-que of the year.

Ah yes, there are many things to celebrate this weekend.

But there are more serious things to remember. This day was originally set aside to honor the dead of the Civil War. It is an American holiday. In Europe, they celebrate May Day. That is not so much of a holiday here, as it was promoted over there by the Labor Unions and their attendant Labor political parties. Here in the US, we never formed a “Labor Party.”

Sometime after the First World War, Memorial Day was changed from a day to honor only the Civil War dead to a day to honor all servicemen and women who have died in all of our wars.

Around that time, the tradition of wearing red poppies began, particularly artificial ones made by US Veterans of Foreign Wars. It is still a sign of support for Vets.

I’m a veteran, though not a veteran of foreign wars. I served during the Vietnam era, though not in Vietnam. I have an affinity for our troops in Iraq right now, not entirely just because I have a nephew currently serving over there (my prayers and best wishes, Eric). I remember the vocal and vociferous debate that raged, the riots, the sit-ins, the endless political debate. While it hasn’t risen to the level of the Vietnam era, the debate over this war has been lively. Rightfully so.

This is a time to honor the dead and wounded. But also remember those who returned physically sound. Indeed, no one who experiences war first hand is unaffected. In truth, the psychological damage that war inflicts is often the hardest kind of wound to overcome.

So, have that bar-b-que. Go see that big movie opening. Enjoy that baseball game, or basketball if you’re so inclined. But don’t forget that there are people out there now, in the line of fire. Remember all those who have served in the past, and those who serve now. Say a quick prayer. Or, if you don’t do that, just take a quiet moment to reflect on what they are sacrificing, and be thankful.

After all, we have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the right to argue about the war itself.

Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at Top Stories