Memorial Day — How should we remember?

Memorial Day is a day set aside for remembering those who have gone on before us and have fought in a battle or served time in the armed services in order to help preserve the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. In this country we have many parades, special services, and speeches from Miliary Personnel who help us to remember the foundations of our freedoms.

All of this is good, and is honorable and it is wonderful to have a special day such as this set aside to prompt us to remember our core values and to be thankful for the blessings that we have. But, how do we remember the individual who has gone on? Often, we idealize our loved one to the point of perfection, and this is many times a key factor in triggering extreme guilt for not “being there”, for not “doing more”, and for not “being a better parent, sibling, child, or friend.”

It is good and even necessary to remember those who have gone on before, but I would caution us to remember our loved ones realistically. What do I mean by that? We should remember our loved ones as they were — human and prone to mistakes just as we are. When we block out the “real part” of our memories, we only remember perfection and that is often hard to deal with.

Let me get a bit personal……my grandfather served in the military for a period of four years, and I love him dearly for that! He told many “war time stories”, and he was a courageous man who helped to preserve the freedoms of this nation. He was also a worker in a sawmill, and he was the “keeper of the gate” for a draw bridge. Add to that, he was an alcoholic who went on week-end “benders” every time he got a pay check. He never learned how to write his name, and he didn’t really care. He always signed with an “X” . There are funny stories to remember, as well as some that were sad. But, ALL of those remembrances help to remember my grandfather as the man he truly was!!!

Let us remember those who have gone on before on this special day……….may we remember truthfully, realistically, and honestly. And, as we do, we will be taking one more step forward in finding that “healing place” for our souls!

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