Memorial Day. It brings to mind fireworks, barbecues, parades, and American flags. However, many people are unaware of the true meaning and origins of this national holiday. Memorial Day dates back to over a century ago, but its meaning still holds true to this very day. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, and I believe that this day is important to me because of what it has given me.
Memorial Day, sometimes called Remembrance Day, began at the end of the American Civil War. This last Monday of May was established as a national holiday in order to honor the men and women of the United States that have died while in military service. The establishment of this holiday is essential in helping the American people remember why we live in the best country on the face of the earth. America’s presence as a major global power was not achieved overnight, and was not achieved through bloodless battles. American’s paid the ultimate price in order to ensure the power and prestige of this fine nation. So, the leaders of our country saw fit to establish a day designed to commemorate those brave actions of America’s finest. Memorial Day is more than just a day off from school or a local parade; it’s a memory.
Memorial Day has always been very important in my house. My father served in the Marines for 12 years, and is now currently serving in his second tour overseas with the Army National Guard. There have been many periods in my life where he would have to go away for “Army stuff,” as he would call it. Whether it was him leaving for one weekend a month, a month-long trip to a base in Germany, or a 12 month trip to the Middle East, I always knew that they were equally important. He would say that the “Army stuff” was boring and hard to explain, but I knew it had a purpose. All of the members of the Armed Services of the United States play a role in this nation; whether it’s kicking down a door to free a hostage, flying a cargo plane to resupply troops, or fixing a tank to get back in the fight, everyone plays a vital role in the finely tuned machine that is the United States Military. The many months of my Dad being gone was a very long time. When he is home, we always go to the services at the Veterans Park to remember those who have fallen. I am very happy and fortunate that my father is not one of them.
Memorial Day is about remembering the past, present and future sacrifices of the brave men and women of America. To me, Memorial Day is a day of thanks; for all of those who allowed me to be here and celebrate this holiday. Out of all the holidays on the calendar, Memorial Day is one of the most significant. I’m looking forward to getting my red poppy this year.
- Ryan McGuire
First Place Runner-Up in the High School Division was….
Read Ryan’s prize winning essay below...