While Memorial Day has typically grown into a day of picnics and discount furniture sales, a resurgence in a true observance of the holiday has evolved in recent years. As one of the longest-standing observance holidays, Memorial Day–once known as Decoration Day–grew out of the need for national cemeteries to bury the fallen from the deadliest war in US history, the Civil War. In the spring of every year, in what is believed to have been completely independent observances by cities around the country, businesses would close and the townspeople would clean and decorate the graves of the soldiers in those cemeteries, knowing that their own families were not there to do so.
As more and more individuals have become aware of the need to keep the holiday focused on its original mission, a variety of real-time and virtual observance events have been established. For example, in every local time zone across the US, three pm has been declared a moment of observance. Social media traffic and hashtags have been devoted to remembering soldiers from every war who lost their lives in battle, while many other members of the online community are calling for better treatment and government benefits for those soldiers who were willing to sacrifice but ultimately are our proud veterans.
Below is a curated list of great books to help readers spend some time today remembering what others have sacrificed, whether at home or abroad. We can argue the merits, criticisms, or political ramifications of any US conflict some other day, but these books will shed light on what US citizens endured for the cause of freedom.
Abandoned in Place – Lynn M. O’Shea (POWs in Viet Nam)
American Trophies – Mark Sauter and John Zimmerlee (POWs in Korea)
No Easy Day – Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer (SEAL Team Mission)
A Higher Call – Adam Makos and Larry Alexander (WWII Air Battle)
Sergeant Rex – Mike Dowling and Damien Lewis (Military Working Dogs)