Memorial Day.  A day of remembrance, of somber tradition, of gathering together to bow our heads and thank God for those who have died in service to this country in its Armed Forces.

So many celebrations of Memorial Day now have nothing to do with the actual reason for the holiday.  I'm not saying to not go to the pool or the beach, to not potluck with family, to not cannonball into the lake off the dock.  However, please be aware that this day off work has a meaning, a deeper glimpse into our history, than just hours to be away from your job.

Some confuse this holiday with that of Veterans' Day, observed each November.  While Veterans' Day is surely important, being the anniversary of the Armistice that ended WWI and also the celebration of those who have served in the Armed Forces, it is not the quiet and tragic observance that is Memorial Day.  As a daughter and a sister of Army servicemen, I celebrate Veterans' Day with great vigor; but I become small and silent for the observance of Memorial Day.  Thankfully for my family, I don't know of any family member who died while serving as enlisted or officer in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard.  So I am not as personally affected as some are on this day, but I am clearly aware of the greatness of this day.

Memorial Day represents those who have lost their lives in battle or other service to the United States.  It really is a day about remembering those who have ensured our freedom and given the greatest gift.  Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” So the sacrifice of one's life is all about love, and in this case, those men and women laid down their lives for their friends, their family…and yet, even strangers, those Americans they had never met.  No one in my family has offered this great sacrifice, but I know that these many men and women sacrificed for me and for my children, and for you and yours.

It is because of this sacrifice that I have the freedom to attend barbeques and go swimming on the last Monday in May.  It is because of this sacrifice that many enjoy their time away from their work.  And it is because of this sacrifice that our Constitution still stands, 230 years after it was first signed, and still ensures our immense freedom in this great land.

My husband and I will spend the morning of Memorial Day at a local cemetery, which is hosting an event with military veterans and locals, to solemnly observe this special day.  Please find a local event to attend, sometime on this day, to show your respects and your acknowledgment of the greatest sacrifice that could be given for you by another human being.  They offered up their lives; surely you can offer up some time.

Don't give up your backyard BBQ or pool time.  Living our way of life is one reason the sacrifices have been made.  But do take a moment or an hour to thank those brave souls for giving us this gift, and recognize that they and their families have lost something precious.  It's up to us to show our appreciation and our thankfulness.