Editorial encore: Ways we honor Memorial Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s editorial has been adapted from one that originally ran May 26, 2020.

Today, some people will hold somber remembrances, while others will gather for cook-outs and fun.

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of pushback against the commercialization of Memorial Day and joyful celebrations on a national day of mourning. Which is certainly fair. For those who lost a loved one to war, Memorial Day has a special poignancy and pain. It can be hard to watch people laugh and play when your own heart hurts.

But there can be a place for cookouts and yard games even on a day of remembrance.

Part of grief, part of paying respects to the fallen, is to acknowledge and remember their sacrifice. To hold a moment of silence to honor their memory. To lay flowers on graves and decorate final resting places — an unspoken message that the lost are not forgotten. That they are loved and their legacy lives on.

But part of honoring the deceased is to hold the living a little closer. To find joy amongst the solemnity. Is it wrong to honor our fallen soldiers by doing the very thing they fought to ensure — our ability to live our lives in relative peace, to gather with friends and family?

Not everyone feels a personal loss on Memorial Day. Not everyone has a lost loved one who served our country. Or, if we do, they may be far removed — the memory of a memory, kept alive in twice-told tales around dining tables and on front porches. But honoring the dead doesn’t have to look like a funeral. Remembering doesn’t have to feel like grief.

Don’t begrudge your neighbors their grills and games of cornhole this weekend. Don’t take their laughter and bowls of fruit salad as a sign of disrespect for the fallen. They are honoring our deceased service men and women in their own way — by taking time to savor the freedom and safety all our military has fought to preserve. It’s not just another day for them. It’s a day they take time to put down screens and set aside work, to bring their loved ones closer and to just enjoy life. They celebrate death and sacrifice by celebrating life.

We offer condolences to everyone who honors someone special this Memorial Day weekend, and we offer gratitude to all our service members and their families — past and present, living and lost — for their sacrifices.

This weekend, we set aside time to consciously remember and honor the fallen. But they are never forgotten. Every day, their legacy lives on. And every day — though often left unsaid — we are grateful.