Retired Navy SEAL Robert J. “Rob” O’Neill has an important message for every American this Memorial Day weekend: This holiday isn’t meant to be a time of celebration but rather one of “reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving.”
This, wrote the man who killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, is why he doesn’t want anyone to wish him a “happy” Memorial Day this weekend. Instead wants them to remember the fallen.
“There is nothing happy about the loss of the brave men and women of our armed forces who died in combat defending America. Memorial Day is not a celebration,” he explained in a column for Fox News.
“Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all — including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid.”
It is in particular a time for Americans to think of young soldiers who died in the field, of wives and husbands left without their significant other, of parents left without their children and of children left without their parents.
Fourteen service members died last year while serving in Afghanistan:
“Memorial Day is a time to think of might have beens that never were. Of brave Americans who put their country before themselves. Without these heroes, America would not be America,” O’Neill wrote.
The problem, he continued, is that too many Americans — particularly younger ones — don’t realize this about Memorial Day, as they’re too busy eating barbecue, hanging out at the beach or just enjoying the summer versus paying tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for this country.
“But Memorial Day is not Summer Day. Nor was the holiday created as a way to promote sales of cars, furniture or clothes,” O’Neill wrote.
His Twitter followers agreed:
I agree and thank you for your service. We have forgotten the meanings of most of our holidays and they have become mostly excuses to have a beer or twelve.
— John Bordonaro (@bordo0715) May 27, 2018
Wow, yeah exactly, cannot ever imagine the loss of a brother warrior in combat,or a family member or friend!!
— richard linehan (@themaya69) May 27, 2018
A humbling article and a powerful reminder .@mchooyah Thank you.
God bless the men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord … https://t.co/7K8YESftcL
— Rich (@CoolRich59) May 27, 2018
The solemnity of your words are profound and heartfelt. Dum Spiro Spero!
— Furman Self (@FSelf) May 27, 2018
I read your article. Most articulate I’ve ever seen on this subject. Wish it could be read to every school kid and college student. Every politician. And NFL player. Powerful, kinda like a Daisy Cutter to the heart. Thanks, Robert, for EVERYTHING you’ve given us.
— Bob Anderson (@bobanderson77) May 26, 2018
Note what the latter Twitter follower wrote about the obnoxious anthem protesters in the NFL. O’Neill mentioned them as well, writing that “Memorial Day is a time to honor the lives of those who would rather die than take a knee when our national anthem is played. But they will fight and die for the rights of those who kneel.”
Continuing his column, the war veteran implored the American people to not only remember “all the fallen sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who have so bravely served our country, as well as their families” this Memorial Day, but to also pray for better days.
I urge all Americans to join me in the hope and prayer that somehow, someday people around the world will focus more on our similarities than our differences and that we will move closer to a time when war is just a memory — part of our past but not our future,” he concluded.
He was right. But this isn’t to say that men, women and children can’t enjoy their day off from school or work and enjoy spending time together this Memorial Day.
It’s to say rather that while doing these things Monday, every American should keep the memories or the fallen forefront in their hearts, for if it weren’t for them, none of us would even be here today, living freely in the moment in the greatest country on Earth.