What Does Memorial Day Mean this Year?

memorial day 2020

During the last (almost) two decades, I’ve had the privilege to talk about the traditions of Memorial Day and the importance of taking a moment to remember the men and women of our Armed Forces who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace. Please join me this weekend, and especially this Monday, when I reflect on those who expressed their heroism and patriotism to our nation through blood and sacrifice.

And of course, for a lot of us, it is a holiday that makes us distinctly American; it’s part of our unique red, white and blue fabric as we officially kick off the beginning of summer with the tradition of putting out our flags, piling into the family-mobile on the road to the lake; of firing up the barbeque and gathering with friends. So many of you in the hospitality industry don’t have the day off as you work on Monday to serve guests every single holiday, and we thank you.

But this year, what does Memorial Day mean and look like?

First and foremost, how do we honor those who paid the ultimate price for our country under the conditions we find ourselves facing today? We must continue to remember our military for their service in combat and conflict around the world. This year we may need to remember them virtually whereas in past years we may have planted flags or spoken face-to-face with veterans about their fallen compatriots. During the current crisis we have been honoring America’s latest group of hero’s such as nurses, doctors, and police; the ambulance drivers and nursing home staff and other first responders who have been frontline fighting the pandemic. There are thousands of heroes among us that have lost their lives serving the public taking care of our communities. It’s a sobering and confusing time.

I was talking to a friend Michelle who lives in California and she said, “Since I already worked from home and Greg is an essential worker, we could almost fool ourselves that things are ‘normal.’”

“Normal” is only for the few

With thousands upon thousands of workers out of a job, struggling to pay their bills, figuring out how to work and care for their children, and people in line for food for the first time, “normal” is really for the few.

It’s hard to swallow comments from people who have not been directly impacted and state, “it’s just the flu” and “it’s only hitting our elderly.” Like somehow that makes their deaths less tragic. We lost a good friend Andy, who leaves a massive hole in the life of his children, grandchildren and his wife and friends like me and my husband Jim. His loss isn’t easier to accept just because he was part of an older generation; he was a man that would give the shirt off his back when he really never had much to give but his time; his loss isn’t easier to accept just because he had survived cancer and had “underlying health conditions.”

Tragically we have lost so many in nursing homes during their final years. They are the holders of family histories, they are parents, sons, daughters, and friends that worked a lifetime and gave back to the world. Many members of our older generations served in the military in theaters of war ranging from Europe to North Africa, to Vietnam, to the greater Middle East. They too have lost friends, family members, buddies, and comrades. The tragic loss of the over 92,000 folks, many of whom have died without their families by their bedside, seems somewhat reminiscent of those soldiers who died on far way battlefields without even the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones.

A day to remember

As the country opens up and we start to recover physically, emotionally, and financially, let’s recognize that this Memorial Day is one that we will never forget. We will never forget those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who fought to further the goals of our nation and to uphold the values we hold dear. Until there is a cure, join me in applauding those who continue wearing masks and practice social distancing. I applaud casinos like Coeur d’Alene Casino that aren’t taking any chances and asking their guests to wear masks alongside their team members. Perhaps it’s not “cool” to be conservative in some groups and some communities. It’s an act of generosity to our fellow neighbors and something we shouldn’t feel embarrassed or silly about; even if we don’t quite know the exact science. Being cautious is not a sign of being weak or uneducated.

From all of the Raving team, sending you our gratitude for your friendship and your readership. And if you’re putting up the flag this weekend and making a special meal, we thought you’d enjoy some recipes and stories from the Raving team and my friends that remind us all of better times.

Christine Faria