From Wikipedia about Memorial Day: Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
I noticed posters all over Sarasota that today is Military Appreciation Day and it got me thinking. I love the fact that Sarasota, along with thousands of cities in the United States are recognizing our members of the military, as well as those who died during service.
When I was a kid, I never really understood the importance of the day. I'd have to march in the band in the parade and we'd finish at the park in town. At some point there would be some speeches and a few guys in uniform, who looked older than dirt would be honored. I had no idea what they had sacrificed, who they were or what they had fought for.
Today, it seems like there are so many more people who recognize the contribution being made by the men and women in our armed forces. But, I still feel like we could all do a better job all year long. For example, let's work on getting more photographers involved in programs like HeartsApart.org. How about local events where photographers are helping with family portraits for members of the military both before they're deployed and upon their return? What's going on in your own community?
Memorial Day isn’t about the politics of whether or not we should or shouldn’t be in the Middle East or anywhere else - this a weekend of solemn respect and pride, with a whole lot of grateful appreciation for those men and women who serve our country every day. And, I'd like to sneak in another group on this Memorial Day. Since we’re photographers and part of an amazing industry, it’s a time to thank all those photojournalists around the world who help us understand the risk and the effort made by these men and women.
So, to my son Brian in the military today, to my Dad who served in WWII, to all my friends who served in Viet Nam, to my brother-in-law Randy who always has on his Marine baseball hat, to Stacy Pearsall on the SCU faculty and twice awarded Combat Photographer of the Year and to every mother and father who have ever stood behind their military bound sons and daughters, thank you.
It seems like such a trite inadequate way to show appreciation, but we're here enjoying a quiet Memorial Day, along with millions of Americans who will also enjoy the day, thanks to what all of you have given our country.
Make it a great weekend. Don’t waste a minute of time…enjoy your family, your friends and think about what Memorial Day really means.