Memorial Day is Monday, May 27, this year in the United States. The three-day weekend marks the beginning of summer for most Americans (ahead of the June 21 summer solstice), a day off from work and, weather permitting, outdoor activities in glorious sunshine.
But the most important thing Americans do on Memorial Day is honor service members who gave their lives serving in the nation’s wars or who died as a result of their combat injuries.
Somber memorial services at cemeteries across the country are often punctuated by gun salutes and aircraft flyovers. Local officials give speeches and the media snap images for news outlets. An active-duty service member might be invited to share accounts of soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen who gave their lives for their country. Sitting in the bleachers at one of these memorial tributes is a humbling reminder of the debt we owe to those who have gone before us.
Hampton Sides’ nonfiction book, On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle, is another excellent reminder. His thorough and riveting account of the epic battle high in the mountains in the dead of winter at the Chosin Reservoir reads like a novel—a story you don’t want to put down, a story you wish were fiction rather than harsh truth.
Lynne Schall is the author of Cloud County Persuasion and Women's Company - The Minerva Girls. She and her family live in Kansas, USA, where she is working on a sequel to her second novel, Cloud County Persuasion.