I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. I spent my weekend catching up with family, relaxing, and eating far too much food!
Today is worldwide Earth Day. While this is not a holiday from school or work it has a very important function; Earth Day is a day set aside each year to raise awareness about our most important resource-the planet we all call home. This year, The Earth Day Network is focusing on the preservation of endangered species.
Deforestation, pollution, climate change, and unsustainable agriculture are all contributing to the destruction of native plant and wildlife populations. For more information on what species are in danger see the link here:Fact Sheet: Global Species Decline
What can we do to help? Simple things, such as recycling, planting trees, and supporting the efforts of global organizations such as The Earth Day Network can truly make a difference, and help to save our world.
For more information about this organization and what its goals mean for each of us, visit their website here: Earth Day 2019
As I rush about making preparations for another Independence Day barbeque, I find myself considering all the various meanings that so many people attach to this most American of holidays. July 4th is not just a red letter day on the calendar, a day many of us are granted a paid holiday, or an excuse to display our national flag on the front of homes, offices, and lampposts in public areas. This is officially the day we celebrate our declaration of independence from our colonial roots. As with most holidays, though, the ways and reasons we “party” has grown and taken on new life as the day holds a variety of meanings as divergent as the individuals that make up this country.
Food, Fun and Family.
For many, the Fourth of July is all about spending time with loved ones-outdoors in someone’s backyard or at a nearby park, or even in a pool as the sun reaches its zenith; and of course, the food. Anything and everything that can be cooked on a grill, accompanied by salads, watermelon, and desserts served ala mode to beat the heat. While the food settles in over-full stomachs, the kids may run around with sparklers (have parental supervision, please!) and grownups rouse to challenge each other to games like corn hole and baseball. The perfect ending to a perfect Fourth is fireworks, either set off in backyards or a nearby professional show.
Many citizens will take advantage of their community celebrations today. A mass of parades, fireworks shows and concerts, many free, are available throughout this week, easy to locate from local listings online or in newspapers. Participants should be prepared for sitting in traffic, and expect to share grassy areas with plenty of others seeking the best spots for viewing.
Concerts in the park are a welcome venue, often accompanied by local food vendors who compete for space to have patrons sample their wares. For those who do not wish to venture out, there are always televised events that showcase the beauty of the lights without the need to weather sweltering temperatures and the loud “boom” of the displays.
Celebration and Remembrance.
This is a day to honor and remember servicemen and women who have, and continue to, fight and work to ensure our safety and freedoms. Today we honor the values our nation was built on, and the belief that despite our differences and issues, we still have a strong future ahead. Today, above all days, we stand up and demonstrate our national pride and the certainty that, no matter our politics, religion, or ethnicity, we are all citizens of a free country.
One of my earliest reminisces of this May holiday, before I even understood its real meaning, is of riding in the back of a pickup truck with my family down winding country roads to reach the old family cemeteries. Once there, we would disembark and make our way up a hilly path, to a fenced-in area of carefully tended lawn bordered by shady trees. Laden with plastic tulips and daisies, we would seek the markers for ancestors whose names I only recognized from stories, and place our bounty in careful clusters and rows.
This is one way my family honored those who had gone before, ancestors whose faces were etched in the memories of the older generation, and introduced to the children by way of books and boxes of old sepia-toned photos. My parents had relatives who had never come home from war, and others who didn’t survive childhood. There were aunts, uncles, siblings, and generations of grandparents, grouped in couples and families; bound forever to memory by icons of marble and metal, of small flags and larger angels, of loving epitaphs and last words.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to honor the dead. Each culture across the globe has developed its own customs of remembrance; for instance, the Day of the Dead celebrated by families of Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States, and All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, Catholic holidays celebrated in many countries.
There are books and television channels devoted to history and software that traces genealogies as far back as written records exist. What all of these have in common is that they are a way to remember our roots, and those who have given their lives for us, that we may continue to live and hopefully honor them in the paths we choose.
Today is the official Memorial Day celebrated in the United States. Today, especially, we celebrate the lives of our family members who are no longer with us, and the veterans who gave their lives in service to our nation. Today we honor their sacrifices, their accomplishments, and their legacy. However and whenever you choose to honor, celebrate, and mourn lost family and our national heroes, let today be a day of commemoration, and celebration.