Opinion | Bruce Butler: A meaningful Memorial Day | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Bruce Butler: A meaningful Memorial Day

For most of the nation, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. In Summit County, where winter takes itself more seriously than in other places, I would say the Frisco BBQ is the unofficial start of summer; but regardless, for many Memorial Day weekend is a three-day holiday. A time to gather with friends and family, drink some cold beer, grill hamburgers and hot dogs, and have a party. The celebratory atmosphere is often characterized with the casual phrase, “Happy Memorial Day weekend,” which is awkward at best.

While I don’t wish an unhappy day on anybody, Memorial Day should be a time of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in military service to our county and their families Memorial Day is not Veteran’s Day, where we recognize and thank all who have served. Reach out to service members who lost the most precious of friends and brothers in arms, and to families who have lost a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband or wife and forever have an empty place at their dinner table. Perhaps, we would be better to train ourselves to say, “Have a meaningful Memorial Day.”

Summit County is not a military-oriented community, but I am always struck by the number of Summit County citizens lost in the two world wars, especially. Freedom is not free, but it appears to be something that our nation increasingly takes for granted. I am concerned that current culture seems all too ready to marginalize or outright abandon precious constitutional rights.

As I watched my daughter’s Summit High School class graduate on Saturday morning, with Memorial Day on Monday, I could not help but think about the thousands of young men who were age 18, or younger, who enlisted to save Europe and Asia from the global ambitions of the Axis powers. So many did not come home. I think our military has the capability to fight a World War II style conflict today, but I fear our country does not have the popular fortitude to win a large-scale conflict anymore. I hope I am wrong should our country be put to the test again.

While I had many emotions rushing through my mind during the graduation ceremony, I am pleased to say that I left the graduation ceremony upbeat and proud of the young adults in the Class of 2022. Kudos to the ceremony organizers who included each graduate’s next stop after reading his or her name.

Overall, I was impressed with the number of graduates pursuing engineering, nursing, welding, and, as I recall, two students who are training to be electric lineman. To the students whose next stop is basic training, I thank you in advance for your service to our country. Even the students who are taking a gap year or two to travel. There is great benefit in experiencing other countries and cultures and it may result in a completely new life direction.

Keynote speaker Nichole Mason offered good advice about setting goals, staying healthy and overcoming life’s challenges. I would add the following advice for our new graduates:

  1. It’s not about you. The sooner you learn this, the happier you will be and the better future parent you will be.
  2. Take time to build genuine personal relationships. Working remotely may be all the rage right now, but human beings are meant to socialize. Purposely put the cell phone and game controllers down and talk to each other.
  3. Humanize the people you interact with on social and other electronic media. If you would not say what you are typing face-to-face, don’t send it! There is nothing brave or commendable about typing petty, nasty and demeaning comments from miles away behind a keyboard.
  4. Free speech is about tolerance of opinions you don’t agree with. Free and open discourse is essential to democracy and a healthy society. The U.S. Constitution is one of the greatest historical advancements in governance and human liberty and dignity. Do not thoughtlessly surrender your privacy or abandon your constitutional rights.

Thousands of brave men and women have given their lives for our nation’s liberty, security and prosperity. This Memorial Day remember the cost of freedom.

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