With Memorial Day – or Decoration Day – approaching May 28, all of us are reminded of those men and women in the military who gave their lives in the service of their country. On that weekend, we will experience special commemorative ceremonies in communities throughout our nation. We will pass by cemeteries dotted with beautiful flowers, flags and other symbols of bravery and faith.
Perhaps the most familiar sound we will hear on Memorial Day is “Taps” played on the bugle by a member of the United States armed forces. This familiar and somber tune is known as a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies and at military funerals. “Taps” is thought to have originated with the French. When it was played, French soldiers would cease their boisterous activity and return quietly to their barracks.
Sometimes we confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day, which happens Nov. 11 of this year. Both holidays honor those who have served in the armed forces. Veterans Day, however, celebrates the service of all men and women in the military. Memorial Day remembers those who gave their lives in performing that service.
Stop and be grateful
This is not a typical topic that this column addresses when targeting dads and their children. But we think it is important as a way of grounding our kids, reminding them that they enjoy their benefits because of those who fought and died to preserve our way of life. It’s easy for us to take life for granted. We run through our days from appointment to appointment, class to class, meeting to meeting, meal to meal only to fall into bed and run another race tomorrow. Memorial Day is the bugler’s call to each of us to stop and return to the quiet of our minds. It is a sacred and grand pause in our hurry-scurry lives to think about and honor those whose presence with us was snuffed out much too soon in defense of our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Sacrifice for country
Dad, if you are able to rally the troops together for just a few minutes – perhaps around the dinner table – and require the deactivation of all e-devices – remind them how fortunate they are to live in a free country. If one of your own relatives served and died in the military, talk about that person, show a photo if you have one, and spend a moment of silence in his or her honor.
Service to community
Now, take it a step further, dad. Young people need to know the importance of service to their country and community. While this special day focuses on the armed services, ask your children to think of ways they might serve others. Whether it’s visiting a nursing home, feeding the poor, reading to children or simply lifting someone’s spirits, help them understand that they have the power and the responsibility to bring a little happiness to those to whom freedom means just another day to survive.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at [email protected]