By admin | May 23, 2009
By Richard Allen
The Coca-Cola 600 is a great event. NASCARâ€™s longest race is one that fans and competitors look forward to every year. The race is made even more special because it is held in Charlotte, the heart of stock car racing country.
The Indianapolis 500 is a great event. The worldâ€™s most famous automobile race has a tradition unlike any other in the world of sports. It is an event that competitors dedicate their entire professional lives to.
This weekend is also regarded as the beginning of the summer season. There will be trips to lakes, beaches and pools. There will be barbeques and picnics. Yard work and gardening will take place all over America in these next couple of days.
With all of that going on it is sometimes easy to forget why all of these things are allowed to happen.
We have the freedom to watch racing, eat on checkered picnic blankets and work freely in our gardens because many men and women were willing to lay down their lives to protect the freedoms this country has enjoyed for over 230 years.
Memorial Day has been set aside to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the rest of us. In all, just over 650,000 have died in service to this country.
Sadly, many will simply enjoy a day off from work and give the meaning of the day little thought. This day has somehow devolved into a day for car dealers to have a special sale and for shoppers to find extra value at the local strip mall. Somehow, those things are supposed help honor fallen heroes.
And to complicate matters, many cannot seem to distinguish the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day was set aside to remember those who have died in service. Veterans Day was created to remember those who have served and remain with us. I heard a car dealer on the radio the other day who did not seem to know the difference. He announced that his dealership was offering an additional $500 off the price of cars for military veterans and current personnel.
We as Americans should count everyday as a Veterans Day of sorts. We should be honoring those we have in our presence 365 days a year. But for this one day a year, we ought to pay special homage to those who were lost.
In the movie â€œSaving Private Ryanâ€ a scene takes place that should apply to every one of us. As he lays dying, Captain John Miller(played by Tom Hanks) urges Private Ryan(Matt Damon) to â€œEarn thisâ€, meaning to make his life worthy of the sacrifice others have made on his behalf. We should all strive to â€œEarn thisâ€ daily.
Enjoy this wonderful weekend, but please keep in mind the true meaning of Memorial Day. It will make everything you do seem even more special.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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