New York, NY – With Memorial Day weekend being the unofficial start to the summer, it is incumbent upon us to remember this federal holiday is more than just a three-day weekend. This day of remembrance has history which dates back to the first official Memorial Day on May 30, 1868.
Originally called “Decoration Day,” the inaugural observance, like today, took place at Arlington National Cemetery with the placing of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and American flags placed on each soldier’s grave.
There is more to contend with on this day, however. According to the Military Veteran Project, 22 veterans lose their battle with traumatic stress every day on American soil. That is 1 veteran every 65 minutes. Some contest the number. According to a 2018 report, the figure is actually 19.8.
Regardless, on this day, we remember all those who have fallen on the battlefield — as well as at home. We remember the reasons why they fought, as well as their families who made the ultimate sacrifice. So, this is certainly more than the unofficial start to summer. Memorial Day weekend is more than a three-day weekend or celebration at the beaches. Whether down the shore, Fire Island, or out east in the Hamptons — this is a day for remembrance. This is a day to say, “Thank you for your service” to all who served our country. For those who returned home, regardless of how long ago, rather than say, “Thank you for your service” — tell them “Welcome Home!” This is what they fought for. Their home. My home. Your home. Our home. It shouldn’t be that anyone is ever forgotten.
If you or someone you love is a veteran, please consider visiting the One Tribe Foundation to find out about their work helping to prevent suicide.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org