As everyone prepares for the holiday weekend, it’s important to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day.
Yes, the barbecues are fun. Spending time in the backyard, at the beach, or at a community pool with family and friends is a great way to enjoy the long weekend. And having Monday off work is a nice treat. But there’s more to Memorial Day than simply having fun.
It’s about remembering those who died for our freedom. That’s it, pure and simple. It’s not the same as Veterans Day, which rightly celebrates and honors all, living and dead, who have served in our nation’s armed forces.
Millions of soldiers have sacrificed their lives to defend our country. And Memorial Day represents a time when we can honor their sacrifice. Just about everyone has a personal connection to a veteran — whether it be through friends, family, or even the community, which is especially true here in Queens.
The borough will host several parades and events over the course of the weekend, including the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which is one of largest in the country.
The parades enable thousands of Queens residents and elected officials to gather together to support veterans and active armed service members, no matter where you are in the borough. There are celebrations planned in Bayside Hills, Sunnyside Gardens, Broad Channel, Forest Hills, Maspeth, College Point, Laurelton, Rosedale and Whitestone — each of which is packed each year with residents looking to pay their respects.
Before you start your barbecues or head to the beach, make an effort to attend one of the celebrations. Even if you don’t personally know anyone who served, or is currently serving in the armed forces, someone you know does and they would appreciate the support.
Don’t make the weekend about you. Look at the bigger picture. The reason we are able to have these observances is because of those who died defending our country. They gave their lives so we can enjoy ours.
We owe the fallen soldiers and their families a great debt of gratitude. We should know that without the grandest sacrifice by our forefathers, we would not be the nation we are today. The least you can do is spend some of the holiday weekend cheering and offering your time and support. You may enjoy yourself and the company of those around more than you thought. And your gesture may have a greater effect than you realize.