Memorial Day 2018: Should We Celebrate?

[May 28, 2018]  In America’s cities and towns today, flags will be placed on graves in cemeteries and public officials will speak of the sacrifice and the valor of those whose memory we honor.  Like many of my fellow countrymen on this Memorial Day, I will be standing in a cemetery where veterans are buried to honor them for their sacrifice.  This is something only those who have served in combat or have lost a loved one in combat knows all too well.

I have no illusion to what I can add to the many fine speeches and endless articles and stories about Memorial Day.  There is, of course, no way anyone of us can begin to repay the debt owed to so few, for so much.  But in our quest for peace in the world, we must all remember that evil lurks near the surface ready to emerge and there are those among us who willingly put their lives on the line to prevent its spread.

That brings me back to the question, “Should we celebrate Memorial Day?”  If someone were to ask this question, it would likely be asked by someone who is unpatriotic and uneducated in American traditions.  I am asking the question today for another reason; Memorial Day is not a happy time and veterans should never be told to, “Have a happy Memorial Day.”  For those who have lost friends and loved ones in the name of keeping freedom free, they bear no false impression that the price is often too steep to contemplate.

A Navy SEAL recently wrote an opinion piece for Fox News entitled, “SEAL who shot bin Laden: Don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day.”  A link to it is here and worth a short read.  Like many of us, we know many in our military who died in combat doing what they do best; defending America.  Robert O’Neal writes:

“Don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day. There is nothing happy about the loss of the brave men and women of our armed forces who died in combat defending America. Memorial Day is not a celebration.” 

Like me, he believes that the day is our reflection on the past, remembering those who are no longer with us, but knowing they did their part to help future generations yet unborn to be free of tyranny and other forms of evil that pervade our planet.

“Memorial Day is a time to honor the lives of those who would rather die than take a knee when our national anthem is played. But they will fight and die for the rights of those who kneel.

This holiday is a time to think of young lives cut short, of wives and husbands turned into widows and widowers, of children growing up without a father or mother, of parents burying their children. 

Memorial Day is a time to think of might have been that never were. Of brave Americans who put their country before themselves. Without these heroes, America would not be America.”

Like Robert O’Neil, I will be standing in a cemetery of veterans today and I will stand with a Troop of Boy Scouts who will know the truth.  Only a chosen few will be at the tip of the spear to keep our freedoms and rights the best in the world.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “Memorial Day 2018: Should We Celebrate?

  1. Doug Smith

    Good article today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on something I never gave much thinking to.

  2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Good comments today. Thanks for those fans of Gen Satterfield that read this blog and for those who add to it by commenting. Remember … honor the fallen.

  3. Roger Yellowmule

    Gen Satterfield, good article. Thank you!

  4. Jerry C. Jones

    Best wishes to everyone on this special day and let’s all hope we understand why Memorial Day was created just a few years after the US Civil War ended. It began as a way to both honor the dead but also to help bring the nation back together. That is what great leaders do, they bring people together for a common cause. Effective leaders don’t divide people along tribal lines or put them into groups and treat them based on that grouping. Our political elite better start taking notice.

  5. Billy Kenningston

    My neighbors and I had a planned BBQ out in my backyard. We invited a dozen soldiers from a nearby military base. These young men and women were wonderful people. They were smart, quick-witted, and very humble in what they did. We didn’t “celebrate” Memorial Day but we did honor the sacrifices made. Thanks for a great article in theLeaderMaker.com.

  6. Greg Heyman

    I did my part by attending a well-conducted ceremony this morning with over 300 people turning out in rainy weather. But I did more than just go there but I also spoke with nearly everyone present and only a few really understood how to address veterans with the right message.

  7. Tony B. Custer

    Same here, Ronny. That is why I come to this blog; for professional education.

  8. Ronny Fisher

    I never gave it a thought whenever I met a veteran on Memorial Day, I always said something like “Happy Memorial Day.” Just never gave it second look. Now I realize how off base I was. I’m educating those around me on this very issue and my friends and family were also surprised. Thank you for the proper “education” on the reason of Memorial Day.

  9. Andrew Dooley

    Good article that made me think. Thanks Gen Satterfield.

  10. Georgie M.

    Along with my husband were my three children who all know the meaning of Memorial Day. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

  11. Albert Ayer

    Today we all should honor those who came before us and gave their lives in combat. It matters not that they are from the USA, as I am, but that we all remember those who fought for freedom from oppression.

  12. Yusaf from Texas

    Like many others, I just returned from a Mem Day svc in my small town. I’ve attended those across the USA as I traveled after retirement. I think the small towns and villages have a much better, and certainly more relaxed, ceremony to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation.

  13. Eric Coda

    Good comments again today. I learn from them by each who take the time to give us something to think about. Brig Gen Satterfield is providing a valuable service with his leadership blog. Thanks to all.

  14. Tracey Brockman

    My wife and I will be attending two Memorial Day ceremonies starting at 1pm. We do this each year and take along our older children so that they may learn about the holiday and what it is really about.

  15. Shawn C. Stolarz

    For me and my family, we will honor those who gave their lives in defense of freedom by going to several local cemeteries and placing US flags on their graves. This has been a tradition in my family since at least 1947 when my dad returned from WWII.

  16. Jonathan B.

    I just returned from a Memorial Day ceremony near my hometown and the turnout was great. I was very happy to see so many people, young and old, attend. Is there a resurgence is patriotism? I’m not so sure.

  17. José Luis Rodriguez

    Well written for this day and I hope that folks get a chance to read your perspective on Memorial Day.

  18. Bryan Lee

    Good article today Gen Satterfield because it gives us non-veterans a new perspective on this very special Memorial Day. Thank you.

  19. Martin Shiell

    Will I be having a BBQ with friends? Yep. Will I have a beer on this hot and humid day? Yep. Will I be honoring those who gave their lives in the name of freedom? Absolutely yes. But I will also make sure others know it and have the same respect as I do and those who I know. Only the mature adult does so.

  20. Janna Faulkner

    It is the United States that has this Memorial Day and I know of no other nation that does it quite this way, all nations have some way of remembering. Those living should always show respect for those fallen in combat.

  21. Darryl Sitterly

    I’m wishing that all of us have a weekend of friends and family … and that we take time out to honor those fallen. This doesn’t take much and sometimes it’s just educating those who don’t know better. Enjoy.

  22. Wilson Cox

    Memorial Day has always been a special day for me since I was a child and had WW2 veterans tell me about their time in Europe and the Pacific. Since I can remember they told me about the lives of their friends lost in our nations struggle to defeat evil and restore the dignity of the weak. We should be rightfully proud of what they did.

  23. Joe Omerrod

    All the best to our military service men and women in and out of uniform today. I will remember those who have fallen in battle.

  24. Max Foster

    I too wish to honor those who have come before us to give their lives for their country and the freedom of all. The US military and those of our allies over the recent centuries have given more than anyone can imagine. Be with family and friends this weekend and remember them.

  25. Lynn Pitts

    I too will be having a weekend of friends and family. Yet, while we will be with one another that is one of the best ways to say to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we remember them and we do so among those we know best.

  26. Army Captain

    I agree wholeheartedly. We should remember that Memorial Day is for us to remember and to honor those who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms and the freedoms of other countries. Yes, I will be having a backyard cookout with friends and family but we will not “celebrate” the day but gather together to thank each other for our times together as military families and to remember our friends who died in combat.

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