A few weeks ago, my husband and I were out of town, dining at a country restaurant. As we awaited our dinner, we met a staff member from an elected politician’s office. My husband engaged the staff member in conversation and inquired which Memorial Day ceremony would the staff member, and Congressman attend in their district. The staff member informed us that the Congressman sees no reason to return from Washington DC to his area for such an event and that he, the Congressman’s area representative, spends his Memorial Days at the lake.
Ordinarily, this would not offend me as I enjoy holidays, and I enjoy the lake. Memorial Day, however, is one day out of 365 that Americans set aside to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our freedom. It is one of our most important holidays because nearly every American has had a member of their family serve our nation through one war, or another. I am a member of multiple organizations whose missions are to preserve the history, honor and graves of our fallen soldiers and deceased veterans from the beginning of our nation’s history to the present. I have willingly taken this obligation, in order to honor my veteran kindred dead, as well as other veterans whose families are unable to attend their graves. Likewise, I engage in these organizations to educate my children and grandchildren of the life’s blood their ancestors have shed for the establishment and preservation of their rights and freedoms.
As a funeral director, I serve mournful families as they lose their veterans. These honorable men and women deserve the love and appreciation of a grateful nation, as well as from their elected politicians. We do not observe military honors at these funerals simply to show off, we observe them out of reverence and respect. Likewise, we observe Memorial Day to express our gratitude for the sacrifices these military members have so graciously given. Service members risk their lives and the wellbeing of their families to protect our nation's honor and freedom. They spend months and even years on unaccompanied tours in harm’s way so that we can go to the store and not fear a grenade exploding as we enter. It is inconceivable that a U.S. Congressman does not see the need to return to his district to honor the veterans he represents, or that his chief staff member would not see the importance of observing with reverence the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans at a Memorial Day ceremony in the Congressman’s unpardonable absence.
My husband is a military veteran. I am a military veteran’s wife. I hold dear his honor and sacrifice to our nation. I hold dear the honor and sacrifice of each and every one of our nation’s military veterans. I am saddened that Washington DC harbors elected politicians who do not understand or appreciate the sacrifices of our brave service members and their families. I love my country, and I respectfully serve families who are laying beloved men and women of merit and honor to rest. It is my privilege to serve these families and help them through the worst day of their lives; the day they must say their final farewells and accept Old Glory as a token of appreciation from a grateful nation.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.