Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday of May, is an American tradition honoring the brave men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. The origins trace back to the Civil War era when communities started commemorating fallen soldiers by decorating their graves, hence the initial name “Decoration Day”. It officially became Memorial Day in 1971, turning into a time of remembrance and respect for our armed forces sacrifices.

We observe this day to express gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, many of which were hard-won. It’s a sobering reminder that peace isn’t guaranteed; it often requires immense sacrifice.

As we stand together, paying our respects, we also collectively dream of a future where conflict and war become relics of the past. As the young generation, it’s your duty to become ambassadors of peace, using dialogue and understanding to bridge divides, aiming for a world where such sacrifices are no longer necessary.

For queer youth, Memorial Day holds additional significance. It’s a day to remember those who died for their country and acknowledge the evolution of military policies impacting LGBTQ+ service members. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), a policy that remained in place from 1993 until 2011, prohibited openly LGBTQ+ individuals from serving in the military. With its repeal, the military became a more inclusive institution, but the struggle isn’t over.

This Memorial Day, educate yourself about the history of DADT and reflect on the courage it took for those service members to protect their country while concealing their true selves. Open discussions about these issues can help shed light on the intersectionality of identities and the different struggles our soldiers have faced. Let’s honor their memory by striving for a society where everyone can serve openly and be respected for their sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember, learn, and envision a more peaceful, inclusive future together.