I’ve written a similar post to this in the past, but it deserves repeating.
As we begin a solid moment of barbecues, the beginning of summer and the clambering of vacationing tourists, I like to think upon the purpose of Memorial Day.
I often refer to the fallen soldiers on this weekend, because people really do forget while tossing hot dogs on a grill and enjoying a three day weekend, why this day was set purposely aside….
…..but I was thinking of someone else. I know quite well the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day (and believe it or not, meany people do not).
This year I wanted to consider a different aspect of service that veterans of foreign conflicts were unwillingly subjected to: the bringing home of fellow soldiers that perished in this desperate desire of ours for freedom.
These are the men and women that brought home the lost, the dead… These are the veterans that did not leave behind the body of a soldier that was killed in defense of our country’s principles. When asked, “What was it worth, what did you bring us?” these veterans brought home our sons, our brothers, our fathers….and more recently, our daughters, sisters, and even mothers. They brought home not the riches and spoils of war, but the price paid…for us to remember, honor, memorialize.
And to those veterans that survived, they remind us with faces often drawn with sadness, that they brought home the body and the memory of someone who kept their promise to defend and protect the freedoms of this nation…..with their lives. They brought home the reminder that this great nation is built on the sacrifice of men and women who will not return, will never return. That this society we bask selfishly in, with all of its glories and blessings and opportunities, was made possible by men and women built upon by names we will never know. Faces we will never see. Friends we will never have. Citizens we will never thank personally for their service. We just drudge along and have cook outs and pool parties.
We sometimes consider Memorial Day something akin to a remembrance of history. But, I think it clear, that we forget quite a few of those that we lost were only lost last month, or last week, or even yesterday. As I pass streets on the edge of this Memorial weekend, I’ve seen a few veterans of different ages, some of whom have their hats with their pins to remind us, not of themselves, but of the ones that were not able to return, of the ones that were brought back in caskets, so that we should never forget the smile of a mother as she kisses her son as he deploys for combat, nor of the mother that hugs tight the child in her arms she only recently sent to kindergarten, as she herself is deployed for combat….never to return.
The shield they gave with their lives protects all of us from the things we fear in tyranny, and affords us the things that we desire in freedom.
Veterans often never refer to themselves as heroes. And this is why: they defer their praise often to the soldiers that never came home. And there is a respect in that. They remind us always, that we should not look upon their awards and their medals. Those accolades are honorable, appreciated. But these veterans are always quick to remind us that while these living veterans gave us their service…..other soldiers gave their lives. And they asked in return, that we only remember that. Memorialize that. To make place on our calender of selfish needs to remember them.
So, on the eve of this Memorial Day Weekend, I can only pray for the ones that are gone, thank them in mind for their sacrifice, the ones that gave their lives allowing a man like me the right to scream and yell….but also afforded the right to sit quietly and pray.
But, if it were not for the men and women that brought back their memories, their caskets, I would never EVER be reminded. So, I owe you, each and every one of you veterans of foreign wars, for reminding me of the ones you brought home with tears and sadness.
So, if you see a veteran this weekend, make note of what he knows, not what he’s seen, not of the battles and conflicts that he survived…..but, of the promise he made to his fellow soldiers:
You will never be forgotten. You will always be in my memory.
(In this world of LOL’s and OMG’s and crazy phrased insignificance, pass forward the idea. I.O.U.V.F.W.
Don’t hashtag it, just say it.)