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The meaning of Memorial Day

Let's celebrate memorial day and never forget

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Time flies doesn’t it? The little guy in the diaper just ushered in the New Year and already it’s Memorial Day. Many of us spent the past week shopping for Hebrew National puppies, hamburgers, and all the trimmings and sides that go with them.

The mini-keg has been chilling in the fridge for three days and the brewski in it is ready for consumption. If you were like me, you made sure that the wine was made in America. There are some wonderful wineries out on Long Island, but I couldn’t make it out there this year. I settled for a few bottles of store-bought vino from the foreign lands of California and Oregon. We found the wire brush we were looking for, scrubbed the grills, and it’s almost time to light my fire, light my fire, come on baby, light my fire. That grand-old flag is a high-flying flag and we’re havin’ a celebration.

Is this a good country or what?

I cannot count how many hundreds of times I’ve been asked that question. Wait! Stop! Memorial Day is not just the unofficial first day of summer. It’s a lot more than barbecues and picnics and the first day of the season we are permitted to wear white.

It’s one of those special days of the year when we can celebrate this country of ours and wish each other a Safe and Protected Memorial Day. I would love to wish everyone a happy holiday, but I am sure that there are many out there that would pounce on me, point to those who have lost their lives on the battlefields, and ask me how can America be happy when so many of our sons and daughters are in harm’s way thousands of miles from home.

There’s much to be said for that, and in honor of those in service of our nation, let’s spend part of this impressive, significant day by praying for their speedy and safe return as well as remembering those who paid the ultimate price for all of us.

Think about this: why do so many from around the world risk their fortunes (as well as their lives) to sneak across our borders. We in this magnificent nation of opportunity enjoy cherished freedoms that many in foreign countries don’t dare talk about above a whisper. And yet there are so many of us that take these freedoms for granted. Liberty, justice, and independence are more than just words in our language. We need days like today to remind us of the heavy price that was paid so that we can enjoy them. We must never forget the men and women who gave their lives so that you are free to debate me on matters that we may disagree without going to the dungeons. People whose last names are DiMiceli, Tracy, and Donahue can publish those debates in a newspaper that you and I are free to read anywhere and everywhere without fear of being arrested. We can attend our churches and synagogues freely and openly and worship as we choose.

Waving Old Glory is not a terrible thing. Nor is it corny to be patriotic. Get the flag out from the back of the closet and salute the fallen by displaying it with pride. Honor America by explaining the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day to the youngsters. Then go back to the question “Is this a Good Country or what?”

NO! It isn’t a good country. It is a GREAT country.

Like so many of us I am the son of immigrants. I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net and I am grateful that my parents chose the United States as the land to which they migrated. God bless America!

Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com, accept on holidays, because we want you to see it.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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