Remembering On Memorial Day

When I was a kid, I didn’t really know what Memorial Day was about. I knew there were parades (or “prades”, as you can see in this post). I knew there were marching bands. The local Masonic temple would come out on their motorcycles and do routines. Old men would hand out fake poppies and flags for a dollar. We were off school for the day. School was practically over for the whole summer. But I didn’t really understand what Memorial Day was.

Now I know that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who died while serving in our country’s Armed Forces. Although originally it started as a remembrance of those fallen in the Civil War, now it encompasses those who have fallen in all of our country’s wars. There have been too many – wars and casualties.

I think that it’s important, and even vital, that we, as a country, take a day to remember and honor those who gave their lives in the Armed Forces. In this age of media spin, it’s essential that we put faces to the people who died in military service. We need to see them as people, not simply as a statistic or a number in a casualty count.  And we need to thank the men and women who have served, and are serving.  We need to let them know how much we appreciate their efforts, their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families.

But I hope it’s not disrespectful to say that I think we can take Memorial Day beyond the Armed Forces. I think Memorial Day is a day we can remember the people who have fallen to terrorism, at the World Trade Towers, and Oklahoma City, and elsewhere. It is a day we can remember the people who lost their lives in natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, in the horrors of school shootings or random acts of violence on the street corner. It is a day we can remember the friends and family we’ve lost, everyone who came before us and built the platform upon which we stand.

And I don’t think it takes away from the holiday if we take Memorial Day beyond the boundaries of the United States. We should remember the people who died in Japan last year, and the people who died in Bangladesh 10 years before that. We should remember the victims of genocide in Europe and Rawanda.  We should remember the victims of war and hate and violence everywhere.

I’m not saying that Memorial Day should be a sad occasion. It should be a happy one, full of parades and picnics and family. We should play baseball, go shopping for sales at the mall, or just lounge by the pool, enjoying a day off of work. But I do think that Memorial Day should be a day of remembrance. A day of memory. I think we should take a moment out of our busy schedules, be still, and just…remember.




  1. Beautifully said, as usual. 🙂

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Ann: Thanks, kid!!

      • Barbara Franchella says

        @Betsy Horvath:
        Hello, Betsy!!
        This is Barbara Franchella (alias..Miss Leta). My memories of you and your first/second grade class are still very fresh in my mind. Do you remember reading MORE books than any of the children in the class? In the front of our first grade classroom, I had a reading bulletin board with flower pots lined up neatly. The incentive was to fill the flower pots with flowers from books that were read in your “spare” time. Parents had to send in a note stating that the book was read by their child…..needless to say…your flower pot was filled with flowers from the books you read!!!
        Thanks to Nancy McElwee who guided me to this blog site. I am technologically still in the dark ages, but do have an e-mail if you would like to respond.

  2. What a beautiful sentiment, Betsy. So well said.

  3. Betsy,
    This past Memorial Day I introduced Laryn to some of the local TV kid shows that I grew up with here in Detroit, through links on the Internet. Detroit is the home of the first radio station, WWJ-AM, and it is also the home of two of the icons of radio and TV, “The Lone Ranger” and “The Green Hornet”, created here on WXYZ-AM 1270. I choose to remember when we actually had something on TV on Saturday morning for kids, teaching morals and good vs. evil, like westerns(I am named after the famous “King of the Cowboys”, Roy Rogers), super hero shows like the “Batman-Superman Hour”, “Captain Marvel”, “Isis”(had a H-U-G-E crush on her), as well as shows like the “Thunderbirds”, “Supercar”, and “Fireball XL-5″(Laryn now has the theme song stuck in her head(LOL). Yeah, I know, some of these shows were way before you came along, so we know I’m “old”……
    But, like you, I also thought about my parents, as well as the many people we lost on “9/11”, and victims of crime here in the Metro Detroit area. It was a reminder to me of why I have dedicated the rest of my life to keeping people safe from crime, so they won’t be a victim as I have been. Remembering that a “Random Act of Kindness” on my Father’s part, saved us from a robbery at knife point when I was a child. A man who was down on his luck was given money by my Dad so he could get something to eat, rather than get a bottle of wine. Two weeks later, it was that same man who saw us being robbed, attacked the robber with a bottle, and led us to safety. That act of kindness on my Father’s part, without thought of him being “White”(I don’t believe in a “race” other than human), rather, seeing him as a fellow human being, has stayed with me my entire life, and every Memorial Day that is one of the first things I remember about my Dad, whose birthday is just a few days before that holiday. Memorial Day is a day to remember the blessings I have, especially where friends are concerned, which many people overlook. Memorial Day can be another day like “Thanksgiving”, a holiday on which I choose to be thankful for being able to give back, as others have given to me.
    So, I really agree with you that Memorial Day can be much more than just acknowledging those who serve our country, although a special day for them is very well deserved!
    Take Care, Have A Blessed Day!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Roy Barnett: You’re not THAT much older. Oh, wait. I mean yes, you’re MUCH older. LOL Your father sounds like he was an extraordinary man. And I think we need to remember those who came before us.

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