1. I think we could all use a little more understanding of Memorial day and a great appreciation for the scope and sacrifice of our military. In another post I defined courage and bravery for me; our men and women in uniform make courageous and brave acts all the time. Often, they are not recognized for these works. It is a solemn event that we recognize them after they gave everything.
My father served in World War II. He was drafted; he didn't volunteer. If "giving everything" means dying in combat, he didn't "give everything": he died peacefully in bed, or as peacefully as cancer allows, at the age of 86. He gave something in the war, that's for sure, but he never sought to be honored for it - probably because everyone in that time gave something, whether they wore a uniform or not. They gave up material comfort and a sense of security and their loved ones, they endured separation and uncertainty. My parents were married at the little church around the corner in New York, before my father shipped out. To hear my mother tell it, theirs was one of a series of weddings that day, all servicemen and their young wives making a pledge in the face of imminent separation of unknown duration, maybe forever. The courage of that act amazes me.
The thing is, everyone did it. That was what everyone's life was like. They said goodbye to their loved ones and worked for the war effort and lived without cars and meat and butter. I'm quite sure there were those who made an ostentatious display of their sacrifice at the time; they were, after all, human. But everyone did it. That was certainly enough for my folks, at least, not to pat themselves on the back for it.
Do our men and women in uniform make courageous and brave acts all the time? For some interpretation of that sentence, yes. At any moment in time, someone in uniform is no doubt doing something courageous. And then there are those who pass their entire military careers and do not one courageous thing. They exist. They're probably not in the minority. They are, after all, human, and saying so does not disparage their service, merely calls it what it is. In this day and age, for some it's a courageous act of sacrifice. For others, it's the only job they can get. For others, it's a bureaucracy where they can safely hide their lack of drive and talent.
Memorial Day has nothing to do with any of that. As has already been pointed out, it honors a certain segment of deceased service members, not everyone who ever put on a uniform. That's the understanding of Memorial Day that I'd like to see.