I’ve lived in and around Indianapolis since 1958 when I was seven-years-old. Memorial Day has always meant “The Race” to my family me. As I child I idolized my favorite drivers like the late great Bobby Marshman. As a young adult Memorial weekend was an excuse to party, you wouldn’t believe the snake pit in the 1970’s if I told you.

Then as an adult, I learned to appreciate the race itself. My brother started it. He memorized all the drivers, cars, and track times. He and I enjoyed keeping track of our favorite drivers and their positions on the track. We listened in on team radios, drank a few beers, and enjoyed the pageantry of the greatest spectacle in racing. But there was something we didn’t do. We didn’t stop and think about what Memorial Day stood for, have you?

What is Memorial Day?

“Memorial 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.” — The History Channel Memorial Day

For some reason as a young man, I had a vague notion Memorial Day was about honoring the dead – all dead. And although there would be nothing wrong with that, it’s not what Memorial Day is about. Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who have given the greatest sacrifice to defend our sovereign nation – their life.

When I realized what Memorial Day was supposed to be an avalanche of faces flooded my brain. Friends, family, and loved ones who had perished, like my high school buddies that didn’t make it back from Viet Nam. That’s what this was about. It wasn’t about a race, or a parade, or a picnic. It was about remembering the brave souls who were no longer with us who perished for a cause – freedom.

Who Do You Honor?

While I type, tears fill my eyes as I recall a young man I worked with, and my best friend’s older brother, and a member of my high school football team, and more. I can see all of their smiling faces. They were taken too young, too soon; their life’s cut too short.

It is my duty to remember, and it’s your duty as well. If we don’t honor them, who will? Who do you remember? If you’d like to honor someone please add their name to comments. God Bless. Have a safe and wonderful Memorial weekend.

Photo by Justin Casey on Unsplash