In the US, Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. It's a day when it becomes appropriate to take the linen, seersucker and other great summer fabrics out of storage. It's also the official start to a season of G&T's, Pimm's and many other most refreshing summer libations. But dig a bit into history and it becomes clear that Memorial Day stands for much more than just the start of summer -- it's a day when we originally honored Union Soldiers who fought in the American Civil War. Wikipedia provides more detail, noting it is a day that "commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I."
The long weekend actually got me wondering if Memorial Day might have a broader and more symbolic meaning today in a supply chain and global procurement context. While US soldiers fought for the preservation of the Union in the Civil War -- and some historians would add the abolition of slavery as well -- more recently I think the diplomatic and military objectives in many world conflicts have not been as cut and dry. But in short, I think if we look at conflicts in the Middle East, in the Koreas and in other areas, much of what our soldiers are fighting for (or guarding) is a way of life based on the movement of goods, people, ideas and services across global borders. Perhaps it's not as simple a concept as fighting for the principals of decency and inalienable human rights (e.g., as displayed by the victors in the US Civil War and World War II) but it is something we can and should still think about and honor nonetheless.
So this Memorial Day, think about how we owe all the men and women currently in uniform -- and the millions that have served in the past -- not just a debt of gratitude for our freedom, but also for preserving the free interchange and movement of goods and ideas across borders. If anything, I suspect that latter will be the greater guarantor of the former in the future.