Indianapolis’s Memorial Day capped a weekend that had all the expected Mem Day activities—including the feeling that summer is close at hand. Actual summer may not arrive in Indianapolis until the summer solstice on Wednesday—but especially in years like this one, when Memorial Day is just a few days removed from the start of hurricane season (officially on Thursday), it clearly marks high time to check whether enough charcoal briquettes overwintered from last fall.
You don’t have to have a primary or vacation home that might be affected by hurricanes to mark June 1 as the point in the year when summer weather makes news. The official start of hurricane season is said to be when mid-Atlantic storms usually begin to get going in earnest. Ninety-seven percent of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity takes place between June 1 and November 30, so June 1 can legitimately claim honors as the starting block (although one meteorologist admitted that June 1 is just easy to remember). At any rate, this Thursday is it.
Of course, Memorial Day Weekend carries a lot more meaning than being the point on our calendar demarking the beginning of summertime activities. As the holiday whose meaning lies in the root word memory, it is unique. Indianapolis families with members now serving in the armed forces don’t need to be reminded of the sacrifices that keep the rest of us Americans free—as has been so since the founding of the Republic.
Complete Memorial Days include at least one moment when, sometime during the holiday, some incidental occurrence gives pause for the real meaning behind the day. Whether it’s a fleeting glimpse of a TV reporter standing on a faraway battlefield now covered in wildflowers or our own encounter outside the grocery store with a veteran collecting for a warrior’s fund, that’s when we experience a somber moment that sets this Monday apart from the everyday. Sometimes, it’s not so much somber as uplifting in a way that might be no more than an inkling. Or it could, for some of us, trigger a flood of emotion; in any case, that’s the moment when we realize once again how much each and every one of us truly owes to those who gave everything for our freedom.
Memorial Day: it’s a valuable holiday.