This is also the day of parties and picnics because in the US, summer unofficially starts today.
Actually, Memorial Day is a federal holiday and was originally named “Decoration Day” as a day to decorate the cemeteries of soldiers who fought in the American Civil War and commemorate the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been broadened to honor all Americans who died while serving in the US Armed Forces. Nowadays, Memorial Day is even more general, as some people visit the graves of their deceased relatives and loved ones whether they served in the military or not.
These days, however, because it’s a long weekend, it has also become associated with shopping at the many Memorial Day sales. But mostly, it is a time when families get together at the beach, picnic and have fun.
I also love this time of the year when schools break for the summer, students graduate and we can listen to lots of inspiring graduation speeches. I really enjoy these speeches because they give me pause to reflect on life. Motivated by the words, I like to evaluate how I am doing while juggling multiple tasks and always struggling in my fast lifestyle to balance family and work. Those speeches are like a refreshing breeze, and they always help me to highlight and honor my own values. They are also a good chance to develop new principles to live by.
I think this year is a difficult one in which to make an optimistic graduation speech, as graduates are entering a very challenging economic climate that is still emerging from the worst crisis since the Great Depression in the US. Economically and politically, the US is losing its credibility in the world, especially in the Middle East.
Still, I have listened to many fine speeches. They made me think deeply about certain issues, and they are all inspirational and moving. I have a couple of nice quotes from this year’s graduation speeches.
“The cellphones you have now have more computing power than the Apollo space capsule, and that capsule couldn’t even Tweet. So just imagine the opportunities you have in that sense. And they’re only beginning,” said Fareed Zakaria, opinion writer for the Washington Post, at Duke University.
“Let life surprise you. Don’t have a plan. Plans are for wusses. If my life went according to my plan, I would never ever have the life I have today. You are obviously good planners, or you wouldn’t be here. Stop it! Stop it now! Don’t deprive yourself of the exciting journey your life can be when you relinquish the need to have goals and a blueprint,” said Jane Lynch, Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress at Smith College.
“In the game of life, when the final buzzer sounds, the only stat you carry with you is the number of assists you made. So help other people put some points on the board,” said Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“The longer you live, the more you will realize that the three indispensable requisites in life are faith, character and courage. Never lose them. Life is not worth much without them,” stated Chuck Hagel, the former senator from Nebraska, at Marymount University.
On Memorial Day, when we remember all the great people in our lives and reconnect with family and loved ones to prepare for a long-lasting summer, I’d like to give you a few words of my own to commemorate all the wonderful people I have met and learned from.
“If you don’t want to be easily frustrated be flexible and tolerant as much as you can. Those two make you stronger, freer and happier.”
“That man can have nothing but what he strives for,” says Verse 39 of Chapter 53 (al-Najm) of the Quran, so pick carefully what you strive for so as not to have regrets at the end.
“Stay connected with the Creator. The true power you need is in you and only that connection activates it. If you lose the connection, you lose your power and get lost.”
“Accomplishment brings life satisfaction and true happiness. Finish something you started. Make Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite quote, ‘Done is better than perfect,’ your daily quote to prevent getting stuck in perfectionism.”
These are some of the principles I hang on to in order to survive. I hope you have some time to review yours and remember a few good ones to share.