Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. It’s a day to honor those who have fallen in combat, but unfortunately for many, it has become a long holiday weekend, or signifies the start of summer and the opening of neighborhood pools. For others, it will be a day of grieving, remembering, and/or honoring those who have fallen while fighting.
Many people have heard of the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her five stages of grief. Her book, On Death and Dying, that was published in 1969, became a handbook to help people understand that there were distinct natural stages in the grieving process. Those phases have often been misunderstood, as they weren’t meant to categorize grieving into distinct, quantifiable levels, but rather to suggest some of the process that people go through as they vacillate back and forth before final acceptance of the loss is reached.
Recently however, I read another take on Memorial Day in a blog posting by Dr.Tracy Latz. While this blog is dedicated to her brother who was a veteran, and has a lot of good information on the history of Memorial Day, I think that this blog has some terrific ideas on the levels of grieving. First, she talks of actual grieving, when the loss is new, fresh, and raw. Then, she moves on to talk about the next stage, remembrance, when the “good times” come into your mind. This is where all of the fond connections with that person come into play. Finally, there is the honoring part, where she feels that you “pay respect to their highest good.” That for me is where some sort of ceremony comes into play.
The official national honoring ceremony today for those veterans that have died will take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier when President Obama will lay a wreath there to honor all who have died for this country. Rolling Thunder, a very large group of thousands of mostly vets on motorcycles, will ride around various parts of Washington, DC. Their various charity events throughout the year help wounded veterans and their families when they return, and other activities to help those who have been in combat or who are Missing in Action (MIAs).
Having grown up during the Vietnam era, I know how alienated so many of them felt when they were asked to serve, yet were ignored by their country when they returned. I embrace Dr. Latz’s take on Memorial Day being a day of unity to honor those who have served, no matter your take on this country’s political policies. This day is to honor those who fell, and their families who are experiencing their loss. not a day to divide us as a nation. There are plenty of other days for doing that and .
What does Memorial Day mean to you? One way that has been suggested that you can join in to honor those who have died is to be silent for a minute at 3pm, in your time zone. How would you choose to honor those who have served?
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