Sam Burnham, Curator
Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer every year. While we should remember those who made this weekend possible with their sacrifice, we should also remember what the sacrifice was for. When those men and women laid down their lives, they were doing so in the defense of the American way of life. They did so in the attempt to thwart threats to our way of life before they could reach our shores.
We often speak of the liberty, the freedom, the independence that is afforded by their sacrifice. But those are abstract and we often don't go into the details. What I'd like to point out is that they made an American summer possible. We are safe and free to drink beer and cook out poolside. We are safe and free to go water skiing, fishing, hiking, or to the race. The freedom of movement allows us to go on vacations or weekend getaways. All the indulgences we allow ourselves - many we take for granted in our society - were purchased with the blood and lives of American service members. Why do we do the things we do as Americans? Because we can.
So in keeping a heart filled with gratitude for the sacrifice that made it all possible, we head into a new summer. We will celebrate. We will enjoy the life and freedoms provided to us. We will toast those who died, we'll pray for their families, and we'll do the things we can. Our way of life will continue. That is a duty that we owe to them, the heroes. How ungrateful we would be to not take advantage of such a precious and expensive gift.
So as the summer begins, live free because they died. That is what they would want us to do.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire