Memorial Day: A Solemn Rememberance Of Those Who Have Fallen
I woke up this morning to read several Facebook messages thanking service members and prior service members for their time spent defending our country. While we appreciate the thanks (and the thought), I wanted to remind you why we celebrate Memorial Day.
My time in the service was a cake walk. Don’t get me wrong: while I was in basic training, life was hell, because it was the worst thing I had ever experienced. The reason that I can look back now and realize that it was a ‘cake walk’? Because I have spent hours speaking with war veterans, learning about their experiences, watching their eyes fill with tears while they talk about the “real heroes”: their buddies who didn’t make it home.
Today is not about prior military pukes like me who, at worst, had to pull long hours of guard duty, or had some sergeant or first lieutenant yell at them for needing a hair cut or not having my “gig line” straight. Today is not about us.
Today is about those service members who died in service to our country whose names are forever etched in granite, whether those stones lay in Arlington or Fort Rosecrans, Normandy or the Ardennes.
Today is about those service members who died in service to our country who are still laying in a rice paddy in Vietnam, the Hueys having never made it in.
Today is about those service members who died in service to our country who pressed on in sub-freezing temperatures in the forests of Belgium, with little to no provisions, leading their units straight into the eyes of evil, into the arms of death.
Today is about those service members who died in service to our country who endured the extreme conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan, not knowing if the “nationals” by their sides were friend or foe, only to be sabotaged by the same people they were trying to help.
Today is about those service members who died in service to our country who were taken prisoner and tortured or starved to death, because of their service to our country.
Today is about those service members whose families have a triangular-shaped shadow box on their mantle, filled with bright white stars on a blue background.
Today is about those who took the oath:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
I can’t say that I ever met a soldier who wouldn’t want you to enjoy your barbecue today, or your boat ride, or your day of fishing, or your picnic, crawfish boil, beer, day at the fair, your Memorial Day Sales Event….whatever it is you choose to do with your day today. What that soldier does want is for you to remember his brothers and sisters who didn’t make it out alive.
Please, at some point today, take a moment to just stop. Stop everything. Put down the cell phones, turn off the radio or the television; just stop everything. If you are a praying person, take a moment to send one up; if you’re not a praying person, take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who went before you.
Whatever you do today, please, just take a moment to give thanks to those who answered the call.