Sixty seconds on Monday isn’t too much to ask for those who died serving nation.
If you’re playing a word association game and the topic is “Bill Clinton,” your immediate response probably wouldn’t be “Memorial Day.” If it is, well, you win on originality alone.
However, there is a connection.
The story goes something like this: Carmella Laspada, founder of the humanitarian organization No Greater Love, asked a few kids in the 1990s what Memorial Day meant to them. Their response was it’s the day the pools open. At which point, Laspada knew we had to do better.
She began to lobby Congress and even helped write the bill that Clinton signed into law in December 2000 establishing the National Moment of Remembrance. Since that time, every Memorial Day, we are asked to take a moment at 3 p.m. local time to remember the 1.8 million people who gave their lives in service to our country.
We have Congress and its 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act to thank for contributing to the “hey, the pools are open” mentality. That’s when it decided Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day could lose their original dates and be turned into Monday holidays, giving everyone three consecutive days off. Veterans Day has since been returned to its rightful Nov. 11.
Memorial Day should be returned to its original May 30, too, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
So we’re left with the three-day weekend, sales, barbecues, the unofficial first day of summer and, yes, pool openings.
Many communities and organizations still do a wonderful job on Memorial Day honoring our fallen heroes. If there’s a parade or event in your hometown, try to attend.
At the least, take 60 seconds on Monday at 3 p.m. to pay a personal tribute. Are you going to be busy? Maybe at a pool? Set an alarm as a reminder on that phone you always carry.
We should do so much more to honor those who died serving our country. They should have their day with its sole purpose and no distractions. But they don’t. It’s up to us to put aside those distractions and respectfully note their sacrifice.