In the U.S., today is set aside to remember the men — and women — who died in the service of our armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day and celebrated by marking the graves of those who died in our bitter Civil War, it was, not surprisingly observed on different days in different places — and especially from North to South. Some stubborn Southerners still continue to observe Confederate Memorial Day, ignoring the united day that finally became a federal holiday in 1967. Along the way, the day also came to be known as the official unofficial beginning of summer — a day for barbecues, beaches and social permission to wear white shoes until the unofficial end of summer on Labor Day.
It’s also become one of the most dangerous holidays in the U.S., with the highest incidence of drunk and/or drugged driving, a fact I learned to my surprise in my days as a journalist. The research I wrote to write a package of stories on that has left an indelible mark on my memory, from the stories of those who lost someone in a wreck caused by a drunk driver to the poor slob who had not forgiven himself for killing someone while driving drunk. I haven’t considered driving after drinking so much as one sip of wine since. This is one of many instances when I’m happy to learn from other people’s mistakes and don’t insist on making my own!
Whatever else you do today, I hope you will take a moment to remember those who gave their lives in our service, whether you are from North or South, East or West, or another nation. I also hope you will take care if you must drive today, remembering that not everyone else will.
And, finally, I remember my great-uncle, Bobby, who died at Salerno, and I invite you to acknowledge your remembrance of those of your family and friends who lost their lives while serving. God bless.