While Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, I prefer to think of it as its name suggests: a day for memorials, when we stop and to reflect on those we have lost. Generally this focus goes to those who have died to serve our nation either in its defense or in our local communities. For me, I think of my father, grandparents, and those dear friends who are no longer here.
All this becomes more poignant when I remember the genealogical research I did some weeks back. That trolling through web sites gave me a better sense of where I came from and how I am not just a city boy from Boston but I am part of a grand story involving my ancestors. I sit here now blogging and writing novels because my great-grandfather came to America in search of a better life than the one he had in Russia. I don't know if he ever found it but he gave his descendants a tremendous gift: the gift of freedom and liberty that America bestows on all her citizens.
Using that freedom I have been able to work hard and focus on my goals and finally achieve them. It is easy to forget this while cramming potato salad and hot dogs into my mouth, as I've done in years past. But I shall not forget again. In fact now that I see the arc of family history and it is clear to me that I have a duty to see how far I can go. How many books can I write and have published? What other opportunities will evolve from that effort? Podcasts? Movies? T-shirts? Translated editions? Who knows?
I certainly don't but it is my job to find out; in this way I honor to hard work and sacrifice of my ancestors, which is no less important than that of those who died in defense of our country and our communities.
And this is what Memorial Day is all about for me. I hope it means something similar to you.