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.
I am pleased to share my thoughts, hoping you would find it to be a meaningful day for you. What will I do and what can you do is as follows.
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 ( it is time to watch the movie Lincoln) 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.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states (wiki) that is “a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").”
By the way I am related to General Robert E. Lee through my son and daughter’s family on their mother’s side.
Had it not for the Civil Rights Act (thanksgiving link honoring MLK), we the immigrants, from some 200 nations would not have come to the United States; we would not have been allowed either. Up until 1910, no one but a white person could own the property here in Dallas. Heck getting a decent job was out of question; my Jewish friends tell stories of not getting a decent job up until 1960. The immigrants were not allowed to marry either; the first such case happened in the last century when an Indian man married a white woman and their troubles began, and thank God, they endured the struggles, and seeded reforms in the immigration law.
Every one of us is designed to pursue happiness. Of the many things that bring serene happiness to the soul is the expression of gratitude. It is thanking the creator for the life we have, (Appaiah story) and thanking those who have laid the foundation for our happiness and freedom that we take it for granted. Thanks to our soldiers who fought in the civil war to preserve that freedom for us, and the least we can do is honor them. If you see the men and women in the uniform, tell them that you appreciate them. They deserve to hear the appreciation.
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 rigth 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.
There is a beautiful Islamic supplication that asks God to forgive the ones who are alive and the ones who are gone, parents, family, friends, believers and strangers.
This year, my Dadski (father figure link) passed away. I am grateful to him for being the catalyst for me to be here in America, he has been a good friend and a father figure to me. I will be visiting the National Cemetery in Grand Prairie and place a US Flag for him.
Every cemetery I spot on the memorial day, either I will pull over on the road side or walk to the gate of the cemetery, or 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 will be visiting the Islamic Cemetery in Denton to pray for my late wife and through the cemetery pray for my parents, my grandparents, uncles and aunts, and my sister in law, and the known and unknown.
The Muslim prayers run 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."
Dear God, I thank you for the life and the freedom you have given me and my fellow humans and I thank for all those who have sacrificed their lives for me 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.
(This is my draft, disturbed by a phone call – I will fix this later today and add more soul searching items to it).
URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/05/memorial-day-reflections-by-pluralist.html
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes his work through many links.