By tradition, in the United States, Memorial Day has come to mean the start of summer. Swimming pools open, schoolchildren begin to think of school being out (and the interminable playing of Alice Cooper to drive home the point), and for some (like my daughter), it's prom season, graduation and for others, a walk down the aisle and up to the alter. On Sunday, the Indy 500 will take place. There are all manner of other activities associated with this weekend.

But none of these activities relate to Memorial Day itself (except insofar as we can undertake these activities). As I look out my window and watch the cars coming out of Camp Pendleton onto i-5, it is hard not to be reminded about the meaning of this holiday, designated to remember those who "gave the last full measure of devotion" to ensure that we could continue to enjoy the freedoms provided by this nation. When I lived in the SF Bay area, we would go over to the national cemetery in San Bruno for the memorial service. Though there are national cemeteries in the San Diego area, we finally found one with such a service, and we will go there on Monday.

My grandfather used to tell my father that while, as an immigrant, he could not appreciate the liberties afforded by the United States as much as my father (born in the US) did, he could understand them better than my father could. He told my father that as someone who did not grow up enjoying those liberties, they were not inculcated into the engrams of his mind as they would be with my father's. Though I'm sure there may be those on this list who will take me to task for placing the issue in such terms, it nonetheless captures for me and my family the spirit of Memorial Day, not merely remembering the fallen, but also what they fell for. It matters.

As we have since my wife and I married back in 1989, we will play "Find the cost of freedom" on Monday evening. When our kids were born, they didn't understand why we put this song on the hifi (and then the CD player, and finally, iTunes). As they grew, they have come to understand the reasons. I can only hope that they impart that understanding to their children. I also hope that while many head off to the beaches or the backyards for BBQs and the like, they take a moment to remember. It matters.

Have a happy, safe, meaningful holiday–I am sure everyone will take a moment on Monday to remember.


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