Memorial Day evolved from Decoration Day, a time when the graves of fallen soldiers were decorated following the Civil War. Today, Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance to honor Americans who died serving in the armed forces.
So what does Memorial Day have to do with umpiring?
Well, this weekend many of us will officiate the Grand Old Game of Baseball – our National Pastime. During this weekend, maybe between games while sitting in the shade, take a moment to reflect on the tremendous freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and remember our servicemen who gave the greatest sacrifice to preserve our way of life.
In many ways baseball epitomizes the American way of life. Baseball is at once collective and individualistic, much like our democratic society. Baseball also does not care if you are handsome, are born into the right social class, or endowed with extreme physical attributes. For instance, the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto, usually listed at 5’6”, won the AL MVP Award in 1950. Rizzuto spent three years with the Navy during World War II, and was in charge of a 20mm gun crew on a ship in the Pacific. He is also the only MVP to lead the league in sacrifice bunts.
|Union soldiers playing baseball in 1862|
|American troops playing baseball in Afghanistan in 2011|
Our Game is important to our national identity, and has been played by our soldiers from the Civil War through today. American soldiers would ask, "Who won the World Series?" to flush out German spies. Perhaps the best way to remember our fallen heroes is to participate in our National Pastime and enjoy the freedoms they won for all of us through their great sacrifices. HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!