There was a time when the holidays we observed represented something noteworthy about who we were as a nation. They were set aside to celebrate Holy days, or for the remembrance and honor of great leaders, special events or to mourn those we had lost. But I worry that somewhere along the way, the significance of these special days seems to have faded into the background and these “days of recognition” are becoming little more than convenient excuses for getting an extra day off for far too many of us.
Granted, I can’t get too stirred up about Columbus Day being celebrated on the 10th of October instead of the 12th, but there are those holidays that should never be trivialized or commercialized, no matter on which day of the week we celebrate them. Days like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, to mention the ones we celebrate in May and June. I’d like to think that we can still find quiet, reverent ways to honor our parents or celebrate the lives of those who died so we could be free. I want to believe we can tune out the newspaper ads and TV commercials challenging us to rush to the sale of the century for flowers, candy, power tools, automobiles, furniture or jewelry all in the name of our mothers or fathers or the veterans who died for us and remember why these holidays were set aside for them in the first place.
In truth, the holidays we celebrate in May and June have always been some of my personal favorites. They recognize the best of us – the moms and dads and the soldiers, sailors and airmen for whom sacrifice is not something to avoid, but to accept with grace and courage. They are the ones who defend us when we are right, instruct us when we are wrong and who stand guard over us through the night to keep us safe. It’s funny when I think about all the similarities between parenting and soldiering. Whether we volunteer or are called to duty, they are commitments of great costs, but great rewards. For parents it is a lifetime tour and a labor of love.
This Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day, let’s not forget the reasons we celebrate. Let’s remember to honor our moms, our dads, and the veterans who paid the ultimate price, with our love, respect and appreciation. The gifts they have given us can never be repaid, but all they ask of us is that we not forget.