Memory of a lifetime
Memorial Day can mean many different things to different people-the beginning of summer, barbeques with friends and family, or an extra day off from work or school. Yet, the true meaning of Memorial Day is something deeper and more meaningful – it’s a day to recognize the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.
On Memorial Day, the Peters Township Mighty Indian Marching Band had the esteemed honor of marching down Constitution Avenue as part of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., one of only two bands that participated in the opening ceremony, carrying either state or national flags. Playing in person for such a large crowd there and for an even larger crowd watching from home and abroad, was one of the most amazing feelings in the world, despite it being a little nerve-wracking. However, seeing the veterans and their families watching and cheering us on was one of the greatest honors that could have been bestowed on us.
We left for Washington, D.C., on Saturday to allow for some sightseeing, from war memorials to to the Smithsonian Museums – and I thought it would just be another boring educational trip in which we would be marching in 80 degree weather. Luckily, I was pleasantly mistaken. Not only did I learn a lot about American history at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and about the various memorials around Washington, D.C., I also enjoyed myself immensely. Being around such a great group of students only made the trip even better!
Out of all of the sightseeing excursions we partook in, one of my favorites was visiting Arlington National Cemetery and learning about the brave men and women interred there. Watching as our two drum majors laid wreaths on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I had a feeling of patriotic pride for my country and a new appreciation for its defenders.
Frankly, I had always enjoyed learning about the various wars, yet I had never actually considered the magnitude of the lives lost. Sure, I knew it was a large number, but it wasn’t until visiting Arlington National Cemetery and seeing the rows and rows of graves that I realized how many men and women had made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom of our country.
This quote, “Freedom is not free,” inscribed in the Korean War Memorial, captures the theme of Memorial Day by exemplifying the sacrifices many made for the freedom we take for granted every day. No, freedom isn’t free. And while we will forever be indebted to our country’s defenders, we all took great pride that we could at least pay it forward and show our veterans how much we appreciate their service.
Stephanie Wang is a freshman at Peters Township High School and a saxophonist in the Mighty Indian Marching Band.