Remember ancestry on this day

By Steve Estes

As we roll into the last long weekend before the summer heat belts us again, we wish a warm welcome to the visitors who will pay us a call, and well wishes to our friends and neighbors who will take flight from here to spend the holiday with others.

But as the Keys’ economy chugs along with the influx of tourist dollars let us not forget why this is a holiday.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who came before us who worked tirelessly to make this nation what it is today.

Many thoughts turn to the former soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who served in our armed forces since the inception of our nation,those who took up boots and weapons to defend the rights and freedoms we all enjoy today.

In most every family there is a veteran of our armed forces who put life and family on the line to travel to faraway places and protect our rights and freedoms abroad while we remained on the home front, keeping the machine oiled for their eventual return.

And in most families, there is the tale of that veteran who never returned home.

It is those who served, and those who never made it home, that we honor on this somber holiday weekend.

But we should honor so many more than that.

This is also a day to honor those who came before us in various fields that contributed to the lives we are able to live today.

Tireless hours of research, often at great peril, have advanced medical science to where we are today,and tireless hours of fundraising have contributed to the eradication of diseases that in centuries past ripped through entire populations.

Save for three states in Indonesia and Africa, the combination of researchers and fundraisers have all but eradicated polio on this planet. Once a debilitating disease that left maimed and dead in its wake, polio is now nearly a thing of the past.

Smallpox has become a disease so uncommon that many in today’s generation don’t remember what it was.

The black plague, once a killer of entire populations, has all but been erased.

And there is still much more.

We must spend this day honoring those who braved death and ostracism to be the focal points for social change that allow us to live in relative harmony today within our borders. But for the bravery of those who knew that society cannot flourish when the few are downtrodden by the many, slavery, genocide and rampant poverty would still exist today.

It is a day to remember those who toiled in the laboratories and shops to develop the technologies that have made our lives easier.

It is a day to remember those who gave a lifetime, or a life, to protecting their fellow man, whether behind a badge or under a helmet, safeguarding life and property in the thousands of police forces and firefighting forces around this great nation.

It is a day to memorialize our own ancestors, those who toiled without the modern conveniences we have today to ensure that you and I could grow up in a world as hostile as this once was. The mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings who spent time wiping our noses, putting food on our table, protecting us from harm deserve to be remembered along with those who gave all. For they did too.

As we spend time in the sun, at the beach, on the water, visiting friends and relatives, let us not forget all those who gave of themselves that we could reach the plateau in human evolution we enjoy today.

Spend a few moments thanking those who sacrificed so that we don’t have to, telling the stories that have been passed on to us from those who lived so that we may as well.

Gather together for a day of remembrance, memorializing those from all walks of life that did their best to ensure that what we have today we can enjoy under the sun of a nation with rights and freedoms unlike any other.

Happy Memorial Day.

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