Opinion: Best way to remember fallen is to celebrate Memorial Day like Americans

May 26, 2017, 12:25 PM | Updated: May 27, 2017, 10:27 am
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Just a quick note before you head off for the holiday weekend: Memorial Day is not Veterans Day.

Memorial Day is when we remember those that have lost their lives for our freedoms and for this nation. It is not a high-five-a-veteran-and-thank-them for his service type of day.

We are not celebrating our armed forces. We are honoring those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Does this mean you need to spend Monday crying in your Cheerios or talking to your kids about how people die in battle? Maybe, if that’s how you want to spend your day.

Is it a day for us to get absolutely obliterated at a barbecue wearing American flag shirts? Maybe, if that’s how you want to spend your day.

Is it a day to find a Gold Star family in your neighborhood and take them lunch or invite them to your barbecue? Maybe, if that’s how you want to spend your day.

I think you see what I’m getting at here.

These brave men and women, since the founding of this nation, have laid down their lives for the cause of something greater — for the belief in American exceptionalism and the freedoms that we enjoy today.

I can’t think of anything more American — or a better way to honor their memory — than to live our lives, to be Americans, to celebrate what they have fought for and what they died for.

If you want to mourn, mourn. If you want to barbecue and get ripped up, barbecue and get ripped up. If you want to go shopping at the big sales for the weekend, shop away. Why? Because America, that’s why.

Here’s a suggestion: If mourning is in your plans, reach out to someone who has served and may have lost a friend or a family member while they were serving and mourn with them. If barbecue and pool time run your plans, invite a Gold Star family over.

Or if you’re looking for some beer to fill the cooler, why don’t you buy some that gives back? Dog Tag Brewing is an organization that honors a soldier that is lost his or her life for this nation on each can. Proceeds go to Gold Star families.

If you want to go to the shopping route, buy something for someone or something to donate to a veteran cause. You can always skip the store and donate to our friends at the Pat Tillman Foundation that are sending Gold Star kids to college.

The most important message I can give you this holiday weekend is to not drink and drive. There is no worse way that you can remember those that have fought and died for your freedom’s than injuring or killing yourself or others because you couldn’t download an app.

Michael Russell

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Opinion: Best way to remember fallen is to celebrate Memorial Day like Americans