OUR OPINION: Memorial Day a time to reflect, thank those who served and sacrificed

Published 4:00 am Sunday, May 28, 2023

In the hectic nature of today’s society, we’re constantly on the hunt for something to do or somewhere to go or something to entertain.

But this long weekend, perhaps it’s time to slow down and indulge in a little moment of prayer and reflection for those who fought and died to keep our country the land of the free.

Memorial Day means something extraordinary in a place like Vicksburg, where approximately 17,000 are buried who died to preserve the Union. If you haven’t taken a drive to the National Cemetery and paused amongst the marble, you should.

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It’s so easy to become desensitized to the true cost of war: loss of life, limb and more for those brave enough to face it head-on. Perhaps that’s due to the influx of technology or our military’s uncanny ability to keep the fight “way over there,” wherever that may be.

But for every person you pass in the grocery store, there’s a life touched by war. It could be a mother grieving her son, or a son whose father never got to come home.

For much of the last 10 years as the Iraqi War has come to a close, the focus has shifted to the mental health of our young veterans: men and women who feel empowered to speak about the war they’re waging on the home front. Suicide rates are skyrocketing, and our veterans deserve all the thanks and support they can get.

We have so many organizations designed to provide support for our veterans and our loved ones. Perhaps in the whirlwind of weekend excitement, you can take the time to support one of them at the local level.

In the world of commercial trappings and excess Memorial Day has become equated with a red-white-and-blue weekend of beer drinking and hotdog grilling. That’s not a bad thing, but the start of summer isn’t what this is all about.

The next time you see a veteran, on Memorial Day or any day, don’t just take the time to thank them. Go a step further — get to know them. Maybe ask about that buddy who never came home.

No matter what state the country is in, the United States of America is still the greatest country in the world. We would do well to remember those who fought, died and sacrificed to keep it that way.