Many spend Memorial Day on a paid holiday. It’s a day we get to spend at the beach with our families and take some time away from our hectic work schedules to try to actually find the time relax — all day long.
The truth of the matter is that we are afforded this honored privileged luxury through the toils and spilled blood of the servicemen and woman who paid the penultimate sacrifice, doing so to afford us Memorial Day as a holiday, a day to spend with our beloved families.
With the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy coming on June 6, we are reminded that Memorial Day is one of those uniquely American holidays that pay tribute to those who have come before us and served their country, oftentimes losing their lives for a cause greater than themselves. As a popular saying goes, “We get to enjoy our day at the beach because of their day at the beach.”
There is no doubt that Kekaha Beach, Anini Beach, Kealia (if it is open due to the whale carcass), Hanalei (even if there is one lane closed) and all the wonderful beaches that we are blessed with on this island will be packed with families doing what they love to do, spending time with each other and enjoying one of the greatest places on earth.
With the recent deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East this past week, we are also reminded how delicate peace is. We have seen it through the lens of history books and mythology, how wars happen and how nations are brought to conflict with one another through disagreements of policy on issues such as nuclear-weapon deals.
We as a nation have seen our fair share of conflicts, and we are almost certain to see our fair share of conflicts in the future, whether it is through our choice or not. What we must relish when we have the opportunity is to celebrate holidays like the one we are able to enjoy today with our families. We are able to do this through the countless unspoken heroes who gave everything they had, putting it all on the line for the millions who came before and the millions who will come after them.
These past and present heroes will never get the chance to meet or know the people they have done it for, but we have the opportunity to honor their service through our admiration and respect.
The flags that line the streets in Lihue and other towns throughout the island and the nation pay homage to this respect for the men and woman who served their country. It’s easy to forget exactly why we celebrate this holiday and who it is for, but if you happen to see a man or woman who serves their country or has served in the past, give them a simple “thank you” in whatever way you deem fit. It’s recognition and respect that will continue on down through the generations, taught to the younger generations by the elders who take them through the cemetery with flowers, placing them down on the graves of those who served in the not-so-distant past.
This remembrance of the past is essential in understanding our identity as a nation and what we will be in the future. It’s not just a day that we get free from work and can eat as many hamburgers as possible before getting in the surf lineup. It’s also a day that we honor those unnamed millions who did it all for you. It’s honoring those who are on their way to protect our freedom at this very moment.
We at The Garden Island thank those past and present protectors of our sacred freedoms, and we honor the memory of all those who paid the price for us on this holiday that is also the kickoff of summer and the end of the school year.
Today is a day we get to enjoy the fruits of peace from the toils of war.
And that will always be something to remember and respect. Always.