“This weekend we will celebrate Memorial Day. While I’m glad that we dedicate a special holiday to remembering all of our fallen heroes, memorializing our men and women in the Armed Services should be more than a few days of celebration. It’s a lifetime commitment.” Rebecca Hagelin, author of 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
Here is Rebecca Hagelin’s Culture Challenge of the Week:
Culture Challenge of the Week: Holiday Patriotism
He’s a doctor, not a veteran himself. But, with his son now serving in the Marine Corps, Samuel sees the world with new eyes.
“Last week, my son’s unit lost a soldier,” says Samuel. “I went on the website for military families and read some of the postings there. The grief is heartbreaking. If my son were not in the military, I never would have understood.”
“I had no reason to,” he says.
Memorial Day: It’s a long weekend ideal for barbeques, yard work, and swimming in the neighborhood pool. American flags provide a perfect theme for parties — red, white, and blue paper plates and sprinkled cupcakes.
Then it’s over.
But, it’s never over for the families whose loved ones died serving our country. In a sense, every day is a “memorial day” for them. They will never forget their loved ones, and the sacrifices they’ve made for our freedom.
Neither should we.
That’s easier said than done. As Samuel observed, without family members, or friends in the military, many Americans have “no reason to” look more deeply at the personal sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families. In generations past, nearly half of all Americans had family members, neighbors, or friends with military experience. In the near future, that figure will drop to just 10 percent.
Last fall, in a speech at Duke University, Defense Secretary Robert Gates lamented how detached many Americans have become towards the sacrifices of our military.
[Whatever their fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction. A distant and unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally….for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, no matter how laudable, has become something for other people to do.]
America is blessed with a strong military; a fighting force built on the courage and selflessness of young Americans. We are blessed as well by the patriotism of the military families and supporters who faithfully stand behind our servicemen and women.
Patriotism, however, cannot be the province of our military alone. And, though holiday patriotism — the flags, parades, and barbeques — is a wonderful expression tribute to our military, it’s not enough. Honoring our fallen soldiers is more than a matter of remembering. It’s a matter of living a practical patriotism in our daily lives.
And, that’s a challenge for all of us this Memorial Day, and beyond.
How to Save Your Family by Living Practical Patriotism
Patriotism is more than a feeling. It’s action.
Try these specific action points with your family:
First, commit to pray daily for our soldiers and military leadership. I get teary whenever I think of a particular 25-year-old soldier who lost both legs in an IED explosion. He’s been fitted with prostheses and is adjusting to his body’s new limitations. His spirit’s unbroken, but he and his young wife have a tough road ahead of him. While my tears are heartfelt, my daily prayers for him are more powerful. Imagine the support our soldiers and their families would experience if every family in the country committed to pray for them daily.
Second, contribute to specific charities that support our servicemen and women and their families. Two good ones are the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO. If possible, volunteer your time as well.
Third, never miss an opportunity to say thank you to all those who serve our country in dangerous and sacrificial ways.
Fourth, do your own work each day with American pride. Service, determination, professionalism, integrity, and respect are ideals for all of us — not just the military.
Finally, as we head into the next election cycle, honor the patriotism and courage of our warriors by electing public officials who will serve with honor and protect the freedoms for which others have died.
Happy Memorial Day!
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