It's easy to have that mentality. I totally get that. Plus, Memorial Day has always been the unofficial start to summer. I hope you enjoy this weekend. I hope the sun shines. I hope you have a parade or a barbecue to attend with friends and family. Mostly, I hope you take the time to think about the meaning behind Memorial Day.

It always sounds weird to me when someone says "Enjoy your long weekend!" or "Happy Memorial Day!" On the one hand, we should celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, but the weight of the day should not be ignored.

President Obama, First Lady Hold Moment Of Silence On Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks

For some perspective, let's look at the post 9/11 military casualties per May 22, 2019, Department of Defense statistics:

Operation Iraqui Freedom (March 19, 2003-August 31, 2010)
Total Military Casualties: 4,410

Three Soldiers Killed And 16 Wounded By Shooter At Fort Hood

Operation New Dawn (September 1, 2010-December 31, 2011)
Total Military Casualties: 73

VP Biden Lays Wreath At Arlington National Cemetery On Veterans Day

Operation Enduring Freedom (October 7, 2001-December 31, 2014)
Total Military Casualties: 2,347

VP Biden Lays Wreath At Arlington National Cemetery On Veterans Day

Operation Inherent Resolve
Total Military Casualties: 76

Obama Participates In Observance Of Veterans Day At Arlington Nat'l Cemetery

Operation Freedom's Sentinel (Casualties that occurred in Afghanistan after December 31, 2014)
Total Military Casualties: 69

Arlington National Cemetery Lays Wreaths Ahead For Holiday Season
Getty Images

That's a total of 6,975 lives lost.
That's nearly 7,000 families feeling an immense loss.
That's nearly 7,000 people, gone, people who woke up one day, probably still in high school, and decided they wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Nearly 7,000 people who wanted to defend a country, and a people, that they love.
People like you and me.

Humbling, isn't it?

Again, that's just in the last 18 years.

According to PBS, we lost:
116,516 in World War I
405,399 in World War II
54,246 in the Korean War
90,220 in the Vietnam War
1,565 in the Persian Gulf War

That's hundreds of thousands of American families who to this day carry on a legacy of a hero.

Mourners Gather At Arlington Cemetery For Veterans Day
Getty Images

This weekend honor those men and women by enjoying our beautiful country and hug your loved ones tight. Take a moment to think of their sacrifice and maybe send a message to someone you know is mourning on Monday. Take your kids to a local cemetery and teach them about real life heroes. When military personnel walk by during the parade, when the float of the lost soldier goes by, when the 21 Gun Salute happens, explain to them what it all means.

Girl holding American flag
Nicole S. Young Thinkstock

Despite the hate and discontent that seems to run rampant in this country these days, turn off the 24-hour news cycle. Look around your communities. Celebrate all the wonderful things we have here. Rights and privileges that are denied to so many. Take a moment to appreciate the liberties we have thanks to those who sacrificed everything.

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