emorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
It was Memorial Day at my house, with the Flag flying high from the flag post in the front yard. We had all gathered around the pool in celebration of Memorial Day. Nothing draws a crowd like a good old fashion cook out poolside. My granddaughter and lot’s of her friends had come to enjoy the festivities.
The men folks were busy grilling hamburgers and hotdogs to go with a sundry of other goodies to enjoy when I heard one young person say, “Why do we celebrate this day anyway.” The hair on the back of my head stood up and the cockles of my spine stiffened. I gathered them all about me and this is what I told them.
We American’s are from everywhere in the world. The world is a lovely place filled with all sorts of folks. Some good, some bad, just like here in American. Here in America, we smell freedom. We smelled it back in the beginning when George Washington and his band of brothers went barefooted in the snow and crossed the freezing waters of the Delaware River under cover of darkness to fight for the fresh air of freedom.
We smelled it when covered wagons crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and made peace with the Indians to settle ancestral land and in Plymouth Rock the heritage of ancestors from far to the North.
These builders of American came in all colors, creeds, and forms of beliefs from all over the world. They built sod huts across the plains of the Dakota’s and far points to the west fuelling our manifest destiny.
Thousands came crossing the ocean in wooden ships their hopes running high to breathe the air of freedom. They came from all over, the Europeans, Irish, Italians, Chinese, and Japan. They came from all corners of the world to settle in this grand new land and answer only to themselves, this land and their God.
We as a nation spread our wings as an eagle does and traveled west to conquer the frontier. It was our destiny. Those were the hardy and strong, they endeavored to preserve, and so they did.
Many wars fought and lives lost since then to protect this sweet air of freedom so you can enjoy this lovely day poolside in celebration of this fresh air we call Freedom. Wars and conflicts fought by every soul who has ever arrived setting foot upon our shores committed to freedom. They gave of themselves and gave their lives then and now so you, my dears can continue to breathe the fresh air of freedom. They come still upon our soil and as they work and strive because as we early ones did, they too smell the air we call freedom and want to breathe it as their own.
Some say we have lost our way and will soon be a second-class country to other places in the world. They know us not for we breathe freedom in our very veins flooding through our blood. Cemeteries are filled with the dead so that you can sit with me this day poolside and ask this very question. Why am I an American?
To be an American is to be responsible for yourself and your fellow man. To work, toil, be creative and re-create repeatedly. Even take up arms if you must, to protect or free a stranger you have never met, to rush into two falling towers on 911 eleven and give your life to save the one, the many none of whom you know, not the names of because you are an American.
That is what Americans do. They move forward into the face of hellfire burning torrents of misery never flinching never failing never quitting.
We right the wrongs and have the courage to put our booted foot in the strip, grab the ear of this Thoroughbred we call American, throw our bodies over and onto its broad back sitting tall in the saddle and ride like the wind of an F-5 tornado to defend her. Moreover, that my darling young folks gathered here today poolside in celebration of Memorial Day is what it means to be an American.
America this wonder of all wonders we are all so blessed to call home.