For the past five years my Memorial Day weekend tradition has been to head out to Indiana and watch the Indinapolis 500 with my dad and uncle. They’ve been going for 20 years now, but I only recently joined the group when a spot came open. And much like the race cars that do nearly 230 miles per hour on the two and a half mile oval track, our trip is a very well oiled machine. My dad lives in Indiana, but my uncle and I live in Illinois. So for the last few years my uncle has picked me up on Saturday and we’ve driven to meet Dad. My uncle will pick me up at around 1:30 p.m., we’ll drive about four hours east, and meet my dad at Gray Brother’s Cafeteria in Mooresville, Indidana, where we’ll have dinner that evening.
The next morning, we get up at the crack of dawn so we can grab breakfast (usually at a Cracker Barrel, but occasionally an IHOP). Then we head to the grocery store to get our boxed lunches that we’ll eat at the race. We pack up the coolers, drive to the neighborhood just east of the track, and park in someone’s lawn. Race day is a big money maker in that neighborhood, as everyone seems to be charging $10 to $20 to park your car on their lawn.
After a couple mile long walk to our seats in section 53, just up from the pits, we settle in and watch the race.
Now why am I telling you all of the details of our racing tradition? Memorial Day is a time to reflect upon the sacrifices made by our brave men and women of the armed forces. It’s a time to honor our veterans, remember the fallen, and thank our active duty enlisted soldiers. It’s a time to really contemplate what others have sacrificed so you can live a comfortable life, worrying about seemingly important things like a race instead of an ever-present threat from those that would harm us.
The Indianapolis 500 takes a good amount of time before the race to honor our military. It’s a very patriotic event. Just because you’re getting ready to watch cars go real fast, it doesn’t mean you can check out on what weekend it is.
So then on Monday, as I’m standing at the two different Memorial Day observances that took place in O’Fallon, I found myself reflecting on my weekend. I thought about spending time with my family… bonding with my uncle and dad… watching an exciting race… enjoying good food. And then I thought about the price paid for me to be able to do those things and how blessed we all are that brave men and women exist that are willing to pay that price so we don’t have to.
This week, take a honest moment and reflect on your flie. And then thank a soldier.