Is today the official start of summer? Is this a boating and picnic celebration? Is today's holiday meant as a time to rest from work? Actually, folks will hang all of those tags on Memorial Day, and an extra day off as summer approaches (it doesn't actually begin until next month) with a little time out on the water, or holding a cookout, can certainly be fun. Please don't think for a second that I dislike any of those things, but today has a larger purpose, and all too often that is overlooked. Even folks who know of a connection to military personnel, will often get it wrong.
Today was NOT set aside to honor and thank all those people who served honorably in our military (that's Veterans Day). The purpose of Memorial Day is to remember and be thankful for all the men and women who died fighting for our country, or from wounds sustained while fighting. While cemetery ceremonies do indeed happen on Veterans Day (and even to some extent on Independence Day), remembering those who died while fighting is the specific focus of today.
But yes, we can have a barbecue or play some softball or even head out to the sales on lawn furniture. None of those are bad. Just pause at some point and remember the brave men and women who really made a difference in this world!