Please do not wish a "Happy Memorial Day" on this day; it is not a celebration to be happy about, it is rather an observance to commemorate and ponder. We observe the Memorial Day on the last Monday of May every year; remembering and honoring the men and women who died while protecting and serving our country.
Why does it matter to you? The freedoms that you and I cherish or take it for granted, did not come to us on a platter and was not a given thing either, it was earned for us through the sacrifice of men and women who fought for it. It is particularly important day for all the immigrants who enjoy full civil rights and equal opportunity in America.
The tradition of Memorial Day observance began after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and confederate soldiers who died in the civil war. Indeed, it was the civil war that abolished slavery which was the stepping stone for passing the Civil rights Act of 1964 and the very cause for the immigrants to make it to America.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and reflection, it is time to pray for those have passed away, whether they are related to us or not and whether they have served in the military, police and fire or not. Please take a few moments to remember all those who have influenced, affected and cared for us, and those who cared for others whether we know them or not. It is not necessarily a noble thing or a religious thing, it is the right thing to do. Indeed, it is the thing that enriches our souls and brings humility and connects us back with ourselves.
On the Memorial Day in 2010, I drove from Louisville to Dallas, an 840 miles journey and stopped at every cemetery that was visible on the road side. I said a short prayer asking the creator to restore the balance on the earth though forgiveness to those who have sinned and bring completeness to those who left incomplete transactions in life. I particularly remember stopping at 4 national cemeteries, and there was one near Nashville on I-40 for the veterans, which was off the road, and I drove through a creek to get there and paid my homage to the men and women who died for my country's freedom. It just feels good to be a part of the whole.
What is the point in doing all this? Its a moment to connect with ourselves and know thyself. We are on run every day chasing the next moment, and there is no time for ourselves...we give time to strangers, friends and others, and it is a good idea to give some time to ourselves.
There is a beautiful Islamic supplication that asks God to forgive the ones who are alive and the ones who are dead, and the parents, family, friends, believers and strangers. It runs something like this, "Dear God, forgive me and my parents and my teachers and all the believing men and women, the living and the dead with your mercy. Amen." Thank God for this inclusive pluralistic prayer seeking goodness for all the living and the dead.
It is time to pause and reflect on life and express gratitude to those who helped shape you. In my case, I will take out some time to reflect about my Mother, Father, Maternal Grand father, Dadski (father figure), my late wife, one of my two favorite uncles, the relatives I was close with, the teachers who were good to me, and the strangers who were good to me, and friends who have passed away and several others.
I will pull over on the road side at every cemetery I spot on the memorial day and silently pray for them. Praying for the unknown connects you with the unselfish-self in you, giving a sense of joy that is hard to explain. Try it and see how good you feel about yourselves - visit a cemetery, eventually we all have to go there.
I am writing this every year as a reminder, several of my friends have called and wrote that they also made the trip and it felt good for them.
Let's wish (pray). Dear God, we thank you for the life and the freedom you have given us, and we thank all those who have sacrificed their lives to have this freedom to stand freely and pray here today, I salute our men and women in the uniforms for protecting and defending our freedom. Amen.
God bless America.