The VFW in 2013 said it well. I cannot improve on this:
Many Americans have forgotten the true meaning of a holiday that we as veterans hold so close to our hearts. For too many, Memorial Day now signifies nothing more than the start of summer and is celebrated with holiday sales. Trips to the lake and shopping extravaganzas have replaced memorial visits, remembrance ceremonies or simply put, a day to reflect upon all of the luxuries—like freedom—that we as Americans enjoy daily.
As proud veterans, we know the true meaning of Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day, we honor our fallen comrades of the United States military in the form of remembrance. And with that, comes a deep sense of appreciation for both their selflessness in protecting the land of the free, and for their sacrifice in ensuring it stays that way.
Each and every American owes a great debt to the courageous men and women who have given their lives to protect our way of life. While giving back to the extent they deserve is impossible, today, we merely attempt our repayment in the form of remembrance. We dedicate this day to them.
As we go about our activities, we should take the opportunity to not only remember the sacrifices of our fallen and mourn their departure, we should celebrate the spirit with which they served and reflect upon their contributions in making America, truly, the land of the free.
The VFW thanks all service members, veterans and their families for their contributions and service to the United States of America.