Growing up, my view of Memorial Day was a kid's view.
I saw it as a holiday for cookouts, going to the beach, and getting an extra day off from school.
After my military service, I came to have a deeper appreciation of what the holiday really meant.
For veterans, Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays we observe, a day of remembrance to honor servicemembers who paid the ultimate price. We visit the graves of fallen brothers-in-arms to pay our respects. We bring flowers, thank you notes, small American flags and, sometimes, personal items that belonged to the deceased.
It is, for many of us, a day of contemplation and stillness, a time to reflect and remember.
But it does not always need to be a somber occasion.
I think of how my father approached his death following a diagnosis of cancer.
A few years before that diagnosis, we fell into a conversation about life and death. A sociable comedian to the end, he told me that he wanted loud rock music, obnoxious dancing, and an open bar at his funeral. He wanted no mourning, but a celebration of his life by family and friends who came together to swap funny or embarrassing stories about him.
He saw it as his unwritten legacy -- a way to keep our family close through storytelling and laughter.
Some veterans would understand that approach.
It is not uncommon for veterans to honor fallen comrades with a road trip to visit headstones, a few beers, and many more funny stories.
That tradition runs especially deep in the Marine Corps.
The first Marines were recruited in a bar, so there is some precedent for sharing a few pints to honor comrades. So you wouldn't be out of line if you raised both your flag and glass this weekend in honor of the fallen.
Marine Corps folklore has it that when a Marine dies, he goes to heaven and guards the Pearly Gates.
I like to think that on Memorial Day weekend, the Marine guards get a break and maybe have a beer with St. Peter.
Semper Fi and go easy, brothers.
Brian Vosicky is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. He is studying psychology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.