When several Brown County schools held classes on Memorial Day last week, a number of residents considered the situation to be an intentional affront to America’s veterans. Judging people’s motives is risky, but school officials did acknowledge their collective oversight and announced plans to formally observe the holiday next year.
It could be argued that a deeper test of our remembrance and appreciation of war veterans — and certainly those who sacrificed their lives — comes not just on prescribed days of observance like Memorial Day, but on the many other non-holidays that are etched into the pages of history.
Today, June 6, is one of those days. It’s the anniversary of D-Day in 1944, that decisive operation during World War II that succeeded because of the sacrificial action of some 200,000 military servicemen involved in the Normandy Invasion.
The number of Americans still alive during World War II is dwindling, and the number of U.S. veterans who were involved in the battle is even smaller. D-Day is little more than a notation in history books for the majority of Americans now. Without careful study, the importance of D-Day to securing freedom may not be fully appreciated for them, even though it is probable that their grandparents and great-grandparents made important contributions in support of that invasion if they weren’t storming the beaches themselves.
The liberty of millions of people throughout the world was preserved, and an unknown number of lives spared — because of the sacrifices of veterans of World War II. The time we have to say “thank you” is dwindling, though. It can’t be said often enough, whether it comes on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, D-Day or any other day.
Even though a holiday has not been proclaimed, and even offices and business are open, we who enjoy the freedoms our veterans fought and died to protect have some obligations. Do we really remember the difference these sacrifices made? Do we really use the hours of leisure a formal holiday provides to recognize those sacrifices? Or are we more interested in a three-day weekend to take a short vacation or work in the yard?