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The Real Meaning of Memorial Day

Yael Eckstein speaking in front of an American flag (Photo: IFCJ)

Yesterday, those of us in the United States observed Memorial Day, a time of mourning and thanksgiving for those who paid the ultimate price so that we all might be free. Writing at The Times of Israel, Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein writes of this special day and how the people of Israel stand with America:

‘What is Memorial Day?’ I asked a friend’s teenager in America, and her answer shocked me. ‘A day off of school and sales at the mall,’ the 13-year-old answered, as my face turned white. Her mother wiggled uncomfortably and tried to find the simple words to explain this child’s naivety to me in terms my Israeli mind could grasp. “In America, we are disconnected from the meaning of this day,” she said sadly. And indeed, that is a sad reality to face.

Shocked as I was, I remember growing up in America and having a similar sentiment.

Memorial Day represented the long awaited public beach openings, great sales, and a long weekend.

Memorial Day represented vacations, crowded airports, barbeques, and fun.

Memorial Day represented many things to me as a child, but embarrassed as I am, one of the last things it represented in practice was honoring the righteous soldiers who gave their life to protect America’s freedom.

Much of America has lost the true meaning of this special day. Memorial Day services, visits to gravesites, and communal gatherings to remember those lost heroes are mostly reserved for army towns and bases. But as an Israeli who has experienced what it’s like for the entire country to truly observe Memorial Day, I believe that America — and especially its children — is missing out.

In this world of quick fixes, instant gratification, and abundance, parents across the Western world are trying to figure out how to pass on the traditional values of appreciation, obligation, and selflessness to our children. Indeed, it feels like an uphill battle. With the children often knowing more about technology, coding, and the modern world than their parents and grandparents, so many of us across the world are facing the same parenting crisis: What am I able to teach my child and how can I give over the values I was raised with, in a world which is so different from the one I was raised in?

Memorial Day is the perfect place to start...

Tags: Inspiration

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