Saturday begins the three-day Memorial Day weekend, ending with the last Monday of May, marking the unofficial start of summer and the right to wear white.
Much, however, has changed this year. The novel coronavirus has shaken our lives and made the memories of unfettered Memorial Day holidays of the past poignantly nostalgic.
Even the beloved Indy 500, an American Memorial Day Weekend classic, has been postponed to protect public safety. COVID-19 precautions and ubiquitous social distancing have also cancelled local Memorial Day cemetery services, and even crimped plans for traditional backyard bar b q's, community parades, and family gatherings.
But while we lament the minor sacrifices we make this weekend for the public health and welfare, let's not forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day, rooted in the years following the Civil War, honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Many of these men and women, in the words of President Woodrow Wilson 101 years ago, “crossed the seas to a foreign land to fight for a cause which they did not pretend was peculiarly their own, which they knew was the cause of humanity and mankind. These Americans gave the greatest of all gifts – the gift of life and the gift of spirit."
Eliseo “Al” Cantu Jr., chairman of the Texas Veterans Commission, urges everyone to unite in a national moment of remembrance Monday at 3 p.m. to recall “the sacrifices made in defense of our values and to remember our service members lost in service to our nation.”
Despite the strictures of COVID-19, that moment of silent reflection should clarify the meaning of this holiday, even if observed six feet away from other people.