Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was instated after the U.S. Civil War to commemorate and honor the people who gave life and limb in military service. Those people made the ultimate sacrifice. It may not have even been for a cause they believed in (though in most cases, of course, it was), but they gave their lives nevertheless, and are to be honored for that.
At the same time, I refuse to glorify war. People will come at me and say “but they fought for your freedom!” That was true for the Revolution, for the Civil War and for the two World Wars. It is not true for the current war, nor was it for many of the other wars in which we have been involved in this century and the last. They had nothing to do with our freedom and everything to do with our interference in global affairs. American favor changes like the wind, and we often find ourselves fighting wars that we ourselves created one way or another.
In the end, whatever the reason, we must finally learn that violence is not our salvation; war is not the thing that keeps us free. To those who died in service, whether by an enemy’s hand or their own, I bow to you: you did what you believed was right.
To those who keep sending them to their deaths, I offer you a mirror clear enough to see into your own soul. Look carefully, for you are the problem.
Relevant links of interest:
“How Memorial Day Was Stripped of its African-American Roots”: http://www.dominionofnewyork.com/2012/05/27/the-african-american-roots-of-memorial-day/
“The First Memorial Day”: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20090524/PC1602/305249938
Wikipedia Article on Hampton Park: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Park_%28Charleston%29#Union_Cemetery