Memorial Day is a holiday — we break out the grill, head to the beach, pack a picnic. But many people around the country are also focused on the holiday's genesis: honoring our men and women in uniform. This weekend some will throw parties for loved ones; others will visit graves of the deceased who served or gave the ultimate sacrifice. Still others will be visiting war memorials around the country.
We've been asking you: Who are you honoring this weekend, and how are you going about it? You've given us some powerful responses.
Takeaway listener Julie, from Mass., called in to offer this response:
"I'm the wife of a Vietnam veteran and on Memorial Day I'll be remembering the people who did not make it home, as well as the people who made it home like my husband who suffer again on Memorial Day. For 25 years he always seemed to be sick or have a headache or something, never went to the parade with me and the boys. After 25 years he finally succumbed to some P.T.S.D and we began to understand what the meaning of a day like that was for him. He's doing great now thanks, but Memorial Day is a very complicated day for the survivors, as well as a sad day for people who lost somebody."
Nancy Garnier, from New York City:
"This is Nancy Garnier calling from New York City and today as almost every day I remember the man whose name I don't know. I know his mother was August Winson. She live across the hall from us in Chicago. I was a toddler. He was serving in the navy in the South Pacific I found out later that he never came back from World War II but he left a piano and his mother left the door open so I could play that piano. I've fell in love with the piano and became a pianist and everyday I am grateful to that man whose first name I don't even know. So I celebrate Memorial Day by playing music with my son who is alive and well and I remember him everyday. Thanks."
"Today I'm remembering my much-loved step father. He died in 1978 of wounds received on a volunteer mission in 1944 in World War II. He lived, he struggled and he survived for a long time. A reporter asked him near the end of his life if he knew on 1944 what he knew on that day would he still volunteer. He didn't hesitate, he said 'oh my yes, we were at war. I had to do whatever I could to help my country.' He was that kind of man, and many many women have felt the same way. Today we remember them."
Nancy Cunningham from Oklahoma City:
"On this day I appreciate those who died in war, including those whose deaths don't get counted as combat deaths. But also I would like to remember and appreciate all those people who wanted to go and serve in World War II but couldn't for a medical reason. I know that my dad wasn't able to go for that reason and he really didn't get over that for the rest of his life, even though he served society by teaching high school for a high school teacher who had to go."
John from Mass.:
"I want to give thanks for rain. Had it not been raining for days before my son, a first liutennant with the hundred and first airborne, stepped on an IED this past February, he would almost certainly have lost his life, not just his foot and lower leg. Rain is very much our friend."
Dana from South Wellesley, Mass.:
"On this Memorial Day I'm remembering all the soldiers who died in wars of questionable national security value, especially Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan...I can't see how we support our troops if we're not conducting any credible inquiry into the stated rationales for these wars."
Kim from Brooklyn, N.Y.:
"Every memorial day I donate to Cup O' Joe, which buys coffee at cafes all over the world for our armed forces who are away from home and fighting for us. I do this in memory of my grandfather, who survived the Battle of the Bulge. It was very important to him and it was a big part of his identity. And I miss him."
Marian McDonald, of Rutland, Vt.:
I am thinking of my father who enlisted when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He served in the Navy and spent time in Ceylon and New Zealand but he did not speak of it much. He did not see "action." In 1941 when he stepped up he was 35.
Listener AJ Ballou:
"I'm running a half marathon in Boston (the "Run to Remember"), to honor fallen law enforcement officers. It seemed like a nice thing to do."