Though most people would probably vote for Fourth of July, a good case can be made to call Memorial Day the most American of holidays.
On the day in late spring, which unofficially signals the start of the summer holiday season, Americans pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation in military service. It’s a time of speeches, parades, Taps and hot dogs. It’s a time when we lay flowers on the graves of lost soldiers and sailors.
Nowadays, we tend to speak about “security” when discussing the role of the military, but that word underplays what those in the armed services have done for us and continue to do for us. Sure, the military keeps us safe from those abroad who want to do us harm. But there’s more to it than that.
The military protects our American way of life, which is to say a democracy that’s supposed to be open, tolerant and transparent. We’re a nation of law and human rights. Men and women fought and died to protect our values as much as our lives.
The holiday started as a way to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of men who died protecting the Union in the Civil War. It wasn’t a war about foreign aggression, but a bloody conflict to keep the union together and end America’s greatest sin.
Let’s all take a moment this weekend to salute those sacrificed to keep us American.
Memorial Day weekend events begin with Coupeville’s old-fashioned parade at 11 a.m. on Saturday. A remembrance ceremony and concert will follow in Town Park.
Two ceremonies on South Whidbey are set for Memorial Day, one at Bayview Cemetery and another at the Clinton Cemetery. Both begin at 11 a.m. This year’s Bayview event will be extra special, as it departs from standard service by focusing on 11 South Whidbey sons, each of whom died for their countries.
Additional ceremonies begin at 10:30 a.m. at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Oak Harbor, and another at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville at 11:30 p.m.