Being a part of the Military community I have known people who are the reason for Memorial Day. I know several Gold Star Wives and families. I know that for them, every day is Memorial Day. And in all honesty, for those affected by their deaths, every day is Memorial Day for us, too.
I am sure that by now you have been inundated with posts about Memorial Day. "What Is Memorial Day?" "What to do on Memorial Day." " If You Do Anything Remotely Fun On Memorial Day You Are a Horrible Person and Will Be Visited By Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses Every Day For the Rest of Your Life You Horrible, Horrible Person." I'm not going to write another one of those articles. I will, however, say my piece; do with it what you like. I'm not the boss of you; not having respect on Memorial Day won't make me judge you any more than I already do.
Memorial Day is about remembering those who have died. It doesn't mean that you have to sit shiva for people you don't know, or even for people you have known.
You don't have to feel bad for enjoying the day. It is the "unofficial" start of summer. It is a long weekend for most people, and in most places the weather is finally nice enough to enjoy the day. Go shop. Grill out. Get drunk. Live.
All you really could do is remember. Just remember. Remember that this world is not just about you and your circle of friends, family, co-workers, innocent by-standers, or the guy you see every morning walking his dog.
Remember why this country was started in the first place. Remember how it started. (Spoiler alert: it was not an amicable divorce.) This country didn't just appear; there were a lot of people who worked hard and gave up a lot to make it so.
Remember that you have rights and freedoms. You have the right to save 60% off a new mattress, or to finally get that 384-inch plasma/radioactive spider-fueled TV you've been lusting for. You have the right to read this, or any other thing and roll your eyes. You have the right to do that, and more, but you are not simply entitled to them.
You have those rights because people greater than us sacrificed for it. They fought for it. They died for it. Remember that.
Remember that we are STILL at war. We are still training, deploying, fighting; that probably won't end soon. Our husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, roomate's uncle's half-nephew by marriage are still dying.
Don't not enjoy the day. (Double-negative used on purpose here. It's my voice. Put that red pen down.) I know people who would be annoyed if you didn't take enjoyment from the day. So go shop, barbecue, swim, party, sleep, or whatever.
Appreciate that you can.
Remember those who have made it possible.
Then appreciate it a little bit more.