It’s Memorial Day. The day we get together with friends, cook out, and throw bean bags into a hole and refuse to call it what it really is…bean bag toss. At the pool I manage, it is a day to cook 500 hamburgers, 300 hotdogs, dance to Justin Beiber songs being blared by a DJ, and pray no one drowns. Thankfully, no one did. So, from my point of view it was a successful Memorial Day. But I want to tell you about a moment I had today that got me wondering about how we celebrate Memorial Day. In the frenzy of our Memorial Day celebration at the club, a man came into my office wanting to sign his family up to become members. He seemed a little shell shocked as he stood in my office among the multitude of lifeguards clocking in and out for their shifts, and the DJ blaring “Never Say Never ” outside my office window. He explained to me he had just returned home after serving overseas for a year and his wife had sent him to join the club so she had somewhere to bring the kids before she “lost her mind”. As he told me the ages of his children, I realized that while serving our country, he had missed the birth of his third child. Amidst the chaos of my office, on a day we were celebrating Memorial Day, I realized we were missing the point. Here was a man that had missed a whole year of his families life so we could be free. Here was a father that risked his life to fight for something greater than himself, and we were doing the limbo.
Thankfully he was fortunate enough to be able to come back and hold his new daughter. But, I couldn’t help but think today was supposed to be a day that we honored and remembered those service men and woman who never made it back to their families; and here we were having dance contests. At least when I was growing up, our celebrations were a little more war like…we were throwing Jarts instead of bean bags. I like to think that, in honor of our vets, we were sort of putting our lives at risk too. (Although I will say listening to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift for 4 hours today did , at times, feel like I was putting my life at risk) So, I couldn’t help but wonder what this service man was thinking about our Memorial Day celebration. Did he feel honored?