Memorial Day – Who, What, When, Where and Why

Colleville-sur-Mer, France


Pretend you are a cub reporter for your local newspaper and your editor told you to write a piece that would help all of your readers to understand what was the true meaning of Memorial Day. What do you think you would say to your readers that would make them better understand the need for a holiday to commemorate such a day. Here is my shot at that assignment.

Every event, every different happening has a different meaning to different people. I realize fully that my understandings about things are rooted in my experiences and my experiences only. I was born near the end of July in 1938. One year and one month later a man by the name of Adolph Hitler decided to invade a country I had no idea of, for a reason I had no understanding of, in a place that I had no idea existed. For the next 7 years I experienced WWII, but it wasn’t until some 33 years later that the full impact of WWII really hit home.

I wanted to see the Normandy Beaches first hand so my wife and I traveled to Colleville-sur-Mer, France for the experience. I remember being stunned by the number of headstone crosses that covered that hallowed site in stark, orderly, military fashion. I remember having a inexplicable urge to film the site with my “Super-Eight” camera. As I pushed the record button and began panning my lens across that awesome sight I began to weep, and then to sob, and then finally to fall to my knees in sorrow, grief, and reverence. “My God, My God”, I said to myself over and over again as I viewed that sanctified plot. 9,000 brave, scared and heroic soles were interred in that vast expanse of lush green earth, in memory of that day in June 1944. “My God, My God”.

If the defeat of Fascism, and the saving of our American way of life was important enough to those 9,000 marvelous young men and women to give their lives, “My God, My God”, the memory of that day, that gift, those souls must be preserved forever, I thought, to myself, at that moment.

It is fitting that Memorial Day is a day when we realize our gift of freedom by joining with friends and family, going to the lakes, oceansides, mountains, theme parks, picnics and  bar-b-ques, and celebrating our free, American way of life, not as fully enjoyed by anyother nation in the world. It is also fitting to take a few moments today to remember the 9,000 and the thousands before and since that have given it all for you and me.