Beef Checkoff Photo

Memorial Day is more than a grilling holiday

As cattle producers, we tend to talk about Memorial Day from its standpoint as one of the biggest holidays of the year for beef consumption. As I sat down to write this, I was going to talk about the good news from Memorial Day beef clearance, which exceeded lower expectations brought on by abnormally wet and cold conditions over a large swath of the country. I had a mind to delve into the two schools of thought relative to the grilling season, which has been slowed by unusual weather patterns.

Instead, I’ll only touch on that briefly. One school of thought says that once the opportunity is gone, so is the demand we would have enjoyed. The other school holds that demand builds up, and we will recover some of those lost opportunities when the weather allows for grilling season to get going in earnest. There is nothing quite as dangerous as extrapolating overall trends from one’s own experience, but our grill has seen more use in the last two weeks than it has in the last four months. 

Yet, it seems incomplete to talk about Memorial Day beef demand without talking about the real significance of the holiday. I’ve always been taught that there is no greater gift to give than to lay down one’s life for another. It is what Jesus Christ did and it changed the course of all humanity. It is what our soldiers have done for us and it not only won us our freedom, but the right to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities. 

With that said, it is difficult to sufficiently honor those who have sacrificed so much for us; those are debts we cannot repay, gifts we did not deserve. We can say thanks and give praise for their sacrifices, and they expect no more. 

But that seems somehow inadequate. Last week, there was a huge group of motorcyclists who went through our town on what they call the “Run to the Wall.” They go to Washington, D.C., to the war memorials to pay tribute those who have given so much to us. I watched a Vietnam veteran go past me, with his modified motorbike that had his wheel chair strapped to the back, and it was a stark reminder of just how much has been sacrificed on our behalf. 

While we can never deserve the gifts that have been given us or repay the sacrifices made, perhaps the greatest honor is to live our lives in a way that honors those who have given so much. Like most people, I talk about the value of hard work and strive to achieve certain things, but the three greatest blessings in my life – my faith, the love of my family, and the freedoms and opportunities associated with being an American—are undeserved; they are the result of tremendous sacrifices willingly given by others for me. 

Perhaps that is the real message of the holiday—it is about honoring those sacrifices. While they are debts we cannot repay, we honor them by helping to ensure that the next generation receives what our heroes have given so much for.

 

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