There’s been a lot of talk in our country as of late about personal freedom. This conversation is especially relevant as tomorrow marks the 152nd Memorial Day celebration in the United States. So I have a recommendation for how to celebrate memorial day 2020 given our current situation — Wear a mask!
Memorial Day began as a way to honor the 620,000 soldiers killed during the Civil War. When the United States entered World War I, Memorial Day expanded to include those killed in all wars. It was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1971, while the United States fought during the Vietnam War.
To the men, women, and animals who have died serving the United States– thank you. The freedom I enjoy every day comes from your sacrifices.
Since I will never serve in the military, I will never know this level of sacrifice. That does not mean I will not protect my country to the best of my ability.
It is for this reason, that I continue to wear a mask as the death toll from COVID-19 approaches the 100,000 mark.
It’s such a simple thing to do. At no time wearing a mask do I feel like my personal liberties or freedom are being impinged upon. On the contrary, I think about the people I am protecting and how their lives can remain free from the burden, suffering, and even death from a preventable disease.
It is not much, but it is something I can do. And I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve in this way.
I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to offer my life for this country. But ask me to wear a mask to protect it?
Yeah, I can do that.
Wearing a mask even sounds kind of trivial when I think about the sacrifices of our soldiers. These women and men who put their lives on the line for me and for my freedom and all I’m being asked to do is strap some material across my face when I go out in public?
Of course I can do that!
So when we discuss how to honor those who died and how to celebrate memorial day 2020, sign me up for wearing a mask.
I’ll gladly wear a mask for the people I love. I’ll wear a mask for my friends and neighbors. I’ll wear a mask for the people living in nursing homes. I’ll wear a mask for our healthcare workers. And I’ll wear a mask to protect those veterans who survived war. Because they deserve the very best I can offer.
A good friend of mine shared with me this YouTube video her son created for the #NewYorkTough Wear A Mask PSA Contest. It makes my point far more beautifully than I ever could. You can watch the video here.
Here are two of the people I wear a mask for:
This is Cecily. She’s Dodger’s mom. Obviously, I love her on that fact alone. But Cecily is a hilarious, witty, talented, kind, and generous woman who has opened her heart and home to Heath and me when we needed a place to stay.
Of course, I will wear a mask to keep Cecily safe. It’s the least I can do!
This is Barbara.
Barbara and I met during my first month in Norfolk during the creative writing group at the Congregational Church. When Barbara’s husband of 60+ years died in October 2017, I imagined what it would be like if something happened to Heath and how lonely that would feel. Coming over for tea and company is what I would want someone to do for me, so I started going over to Barbara’s house for (mostly) weekly tea dates. We have such a nice time together, and Barbara has two excellent recliner chairs where we drink our tea, listen to classical music, and sometimes nap because the music is so relaxing.
I wear my mask for Barbara, too. She deserves not to have her health put at risk for circumstances she can’t control.
So on this Memorial Day, let us continue honoring those who died. We choose how to celebrate Memorial Day and the lives lost by being good citizens.
Let our soldiers’ sacrifices not be in vain.
Let us make sure that in our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, we start with life.
Protect each other.
It’s that simple.