The Home of the Free Because of the Brave
You’ve heard it said before: we are the home of the free because of the brave. Or perhaps “all gave some, but some gave all.” Or even, in the words of Lee Greenwood, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free and I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me!” There are countless colloquialisms, sayings, poems and songs that can be applied to Memorial Day.
An unofficial holiday that sprung from the ashes of the Civil War, Memorial Day, as we know it, came to be in 1971. The fourth Monday in May each year, today is the day we remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom as Americans.
Memorial Day, for my non-military family, was about barbeques and family, laughter and fun. There was a parade that went through Rosebank in Staten Island, NY, but I don’t remember paying much attention to the reason behind the holiday. Fast forward to 2010, and I attended my first Memorial Day service in honor of a soldier who was no longer with us. My husband’s grandfather, who lived to be nearly 90, served in WWII. His son made the military a career and just a month after Grandpa left us, his little town in Northern NJ honored him and his sacrifices on Memorial Day.
It was breathtakingly beautiful and achingly heart-wrenching, all at the same time. I found myself gasping for air as they handed flowers to his daughters. I didn’t know him when he was in the service, but it didn’t matter. As they honored him that day, I couldn’t help but envision Grandpa as a young soldier, in his crisp uniform, ready to take off and storm the beaches at Normandy.