Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer at the Heart of Memorial Day Sacrifice
Posted on May 28, 2014
Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb
“Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer…” – lyrics from an old song that usually surfaces on the radio sometime after Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer here in the good ole’ U.S.A.
Inevitably, each year criticism also surfaces about picnics and forays to the beach overshadowing the true meaning of Memorial Day which is to honor those in the U.S. Armed Forces who died in service to the nation. In truth, however, as long as parades, speeches and the laying of wreaths continue in tribute to the fallen, what better way to honor their sacrifice than by enjoying what a local newspaper editor once described as “simple freedoms” of American life.
Over the past decade the U.S. has been involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries where many women are required to shroud themselves from head to toe with burkas and live very restricted, repressive lives in terms of allowable conduct.
But here in the U.S. – girls, after the Memorial Day ceremonies isn’t it terrific to pull on a pair of short, shorts with a tube top and soak up the sun?
As a reporter covering the town of Windsor, Connecticut, at one of the Memorial Day services I attended, the keynote speaker who was a member of the U.S. military, said when soldiers go to war they are not only motivated by principles but too by memories of their communities; hometowns that represent a way of life held so dear that they put themselves in harm’s way to protect it. Surely, those hometown memories include a Memorial Day picnic or two, hot dogs and burgers on backyard grills, homemade potato salad, a Budweiser, volleyball, card games, sitting around shooting the breeze, ball games or a day at the beach.
After I started my reporting career, I interviewed a couple from Romania in the U.S. as political refugees. One question I asked each of them was, “What do you most like about the United States?” The husband responded, “It is true, here you really can speak your mind.” His wife, whose English was not yet as good as her husband’s and had given up her career as a teacher to come to America, smiled and replied, “You celebrate so many holidays!”
Her observation gave me pause – it was an unexpected answer and something I had not previously given much thought. In a way, it goes to the heart of the American spirit, to celebrate life.
So yes, let us continue to honor those from each of our families and other families who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. As well though, let us not forget they died also so we can enjoy simple freedoms – like those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.