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  • Writer's pictureMatilda Butler

Do You Sometimes Forget the Meaning of a Holiday?

Updated: Jun 5, 2022

"How important it is for us to recognize our

heroes and she-roes." Maya Angelou


I've been thinking about Memorial Day for several weeks. Yet here it is and I still haven't written anything. It's not because I have no thoughts about this day, but because I have so many and have not been able to get them organized.

So please bear with me. I decided to share with you an essay written by a friend. I love calling Bill Thomas my friend. We've never met in person but both share an admiration for Rosie the Riveter. In fact, you could say that Rosie introduced us. Early in WW2, Bill trained Rosie the Riveters and wrote to me about his experiences. I published his Rosie story on and you can read it there. Soon, though, he and two of his best friends all joined the military to fight overseas.

Bill also wrote me about other war experiences and about the loss of his two best friends. Those are just a few of those he is remembering today. And although we celebrate and seek inspiration from women in this blog, I think you'll appreciate his short essay.


Bill Thomas

As a World War 2 Veteran, I wondered what MEMORIAL DAY means to other people.

I asked a few dozen individuals, “What does MEMORIAL DAY mean to you?”

One person said, “I drink beer with the family while we watch TV.”

A woman stated, “It’s a day our family gets together and we eat a lot of food.”

A husky tall guy said, “A bunch of our guys play 4-6 games of soccer.”

A young lady and her lady friend said, "We go shopping."

One person proudly stated, “It's a good day to take notice of our military troops... especially on Memorial Day. Our family goes to the cemetery to visit my dead brother.”

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ll agree my question was asked on the spot and I only wanted a short answer. I admit I did not use their entire quotation, and only wrote the “gist” of their answers.

Unfortunately, their responses were very similar to the answers from hundreds of millions of other people. Many people's answers were such as,

• “go shopping,”

• “go on a 3-day vacation,”

• “fly home,”

• “catch up on my sleep.”

• “go buy a car, (or furniture, or clothing)”

• etc.

Yes, I personally admit I have said and done some of the same activities. Those are just a few of the national pleasures so many millions of us fought for, and now enjoy.

But, none of my responders mentioned anything about any military personnel who gave up their AMERICAN lifestyle; the jobs and careers and employment benefits they would have enjoyed; the higher education they could have received; or the family life they might have enjoyed at birthdays, graduations weddings, anniversaries, etc. had they not died.

Many of us think about what AMERICA could have been like IF all those military people who served in our nation’s armed forces hadn’t taken the time and suffered the consequences to serve.

Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well. ~Jennifer M. Granholm, first woman elected Governor of Michigan and current Secretary of Energy

Only one person I interviewed said anything about any military veteran who DIED for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our great country. This is why it is so important that 'we the people' make sure our freedom is secure, protected, and most importantly NOT FORGOTTEN. This is what MEMORIAL DAY is all about.

Over the past centuries, millions of our ablest MEN AND WOMEN VETERANS DIED to preserve our national FREEDOM AND LIBERTY.

So many people now, take it for granted.

How many of our countrymen visit a cemetery; attend a patriotic parade or a national ceremony, or pay their respects in a religious place of worship to “Honorees of Memorial Day”?

Take a few minutes to compare how millions of people in the USA, and hundreds of countries worldwide honor all their military men and women.

We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~ Cynthia Ozick, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist. Born 1928.

In previous generations, “PATRIOTISM” had a much greater, deeper, more meaningful attitude and feeling. We were very proud to wave and salute our American Flag.

Our recitation of “The Pledge of Allegiance” gave us a greater appreciation of our country, our Constitution, and our laws. Whenever any of us sing or hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” pockets of tears still fill the eyes of many, many millions of our people.

From the graves of the DEAD Veterans, WE MAY hear their voices tell us, “Enjoy the LIBERTY and joyfulness of your FREEDOM.

The magic of America is that we're a free and open society with a mixed population. Part of our security is our freedom. ~Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, 1997 to 2001

WE Veterans appreciate you remembering us on all MEMORIAL DAYS.

WE totally appreciate YOUR REMEMBRANCE.



Bill Thomas is a Veteran of World War II,

Past Commander of VFW Post 4048, and

Vice commander of American Legion Post 857

Thank You Bill.

And by the way, we want to acknowledge Bill's years of service and his leadership with the American Legion and VFW. Bill will be 99 on November 12, 2022. We look forward to a celebratory essay from him on his 100th birthday in just a little over a year.

Another Inspirational Thought

Starting or ending a day with an inspirational quote always makes my day better. Perhaps you feel the same way. I am tempted to give you a set of them. Instead, I'll give you just one more. I hope you'll reflect on it and see how you can apply it to your own life -- not just on Memorial Day but on every day.

The essence of America -- that which really unites us -- is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion -- it is an idea -- and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. ~Condoleeza Rice, American diplomat and US Secretary of State, 2005 to 2009

Missed Our Previous Blogs? Check these out!

Rosie the Riveter's Riveting Story -- Find out the connection to Jackie Kennedy's fashion designer and Rosalind Palmer Walter (major funder of public television).

Wendy the Welder (Rosie the Riveter's Co-Worker)


Want More Stories about Amazing Women? More Inspiration for Your Own Life?

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By The Way...

I mentioned that Bill Thomas and I met via Rosie the Riveter. More specifically, we met because of the collective memoir: Rosie's Daughters: The "First Woman To" Generation Tells Its Story. If you are interested click on the button below.


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