Respect. Honor. Sacrifice.

When most Americans think of Memorial Day, they conjure up images of beach destinations, barbecues and the first official weekend of flip-flop season. It’s a carefree few days filled with fun, laughs and when the weather permits, lots of outdoor activities.

They plan what time the traffic will be at a minimum, load the cooler and pack the sunscreen. Jimmy Buffet sings a tune and everyone looks forward to wasting away in Margaritaville.

Then there are the others. Those who visit cemeteries at dawn, placing flags on the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who march in remembrance ceremonies, honoring the deceased soldiers, sailors and airmen (that includes airwomen) who paid the price when serving our country. Those who take seriously Memorial Day and what it represents, who it honors and why it should never be casually mentioned.

Today, we live in a country that is divided in politics with racial discord and civil unrest. Citizens, and those who may never become one, burn flags and spit on law enforcement. They hate the military and insult our legal immigrants by opening our borders and endangering us all. There are protests, looting and cities burning. And as some spend time resenting our country and seeming hell bent on destroying it, this freedom we so often take for granted is thanks to those who paid the ultimate price – those who died in the line of duty.

We hate war. Who wouldn’t. We don’t want war. But it is not our people fighting our people. It is not a choice, like serving our country. It is our military men and women, past and present, sacrificing and fighting on the orders of our government. They serve because they harbor a love of country like no other and believe in what our flag stands for – the very flag so many want to disgrace and burn.

Thank them for our freedom. Thank them for our privilege.

I’m sure many who died or fought for our country, if not all, would be rolling over in their graves today, saddened by what is becoming of our nation.

United we stand. Divided we fall. May we remember to be one nation, under whatever higher power you choose to believe, indivisible. May we continue to have liberty and justice for all – not just some. And may we continue to be the land of the free, home of the brave.

I leave you with six quotes to take with you as we honor Memorial Day:

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.” – Mary Roach

“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” – Unknown

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” – Norman Schwarzkopf

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” – Charles de Gaulle

“I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” – John Thune

Author: E.M. Murphy

A freelance writer, coach, eternal seeker and Renaissance soul who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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