The changing of the seasons is marked by both dates on the calendar and by events in our cultures. For those of us living in the United States, the beginning of the summer season is marked by the advent of the Memorial Day holiday.
Although Memorial Day was made a federal holiday in 1967, its origins date back to the American Civil War. It was intended to be a day to remember those who had died in service to the nation, but has since been expanded to honor all veterans of conflict and is celebrated with religious, secular and other activities. Traditionally, back yard gatherings and pot luck meals form part of the celebrations as do overt patriotic displays from cemeteries to homes.
Memorial Day has also come to include taking time to remember those in our families who have passed away. Families will often visit grave sites and decorate them with flowers or find other ways of taking care of them. All of this is done in a spirit of respect and appreciation fo the sacrifices and service rendered by those who have passed on for those of us who remain.
Which brings me to the purpose of today’s post.
What have you been given? What gifts are you the recipient of, either as a direct result of the actions and sacrifices of others, or as part of the collective citizens of the United States? What freedoms do you enjoy as a result of the efforts of others? Can you name some of them easily? The freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble, and the freedom to worship are a few that spring to mind quickly. And while it is true that all of us have inherited these freedoms as a result of birth or naturalization, what are we doing with them?
As an aspiring Gentleman of Substance, I strongly encourage you to think carefully on the way that you use these precious gifts. Think carefully on the way that you have fostered these freedoms in your life and your activities. Consider thoughtfully how you might do a more effective job of encouraging these freedoms in the lives of others. And when you have done that, craft a plan of simple activities that you can take during the ensuing season to do just that.
Summer is a wonderful time to connect, to engage, to participate with others. Take the time to do that. Volunteer for a cause that you believe in, go out of your way to thank those who serve, both in our armed forces and in our local civil services, for the actions they take to protect you and your freedoms. Become involved in causes that are bigger than you, donate your money and other materials to alleviate the suffering and difficulties of others, to the extent that you are able, because this is the kind of behavior that befits a Gentleman.
Happy Memorial Day! May it be a wonderful springboard for a busy and Substance filled summer.