I would say Happy Memorial Day to everyone (and indeed I hope everyone has a wonderful day)…but today isn’t about you.
Today is about the people those that are no longer with us.
As a veteran, today isn’t even about me–it is about the men and women that never got to come home and hang up their uniform. It is about the men and women that didn’t get to see their children grow up, or graduate, or give them grandchildren to spoil. Today is about the people that have died because they chose to do a job that 98% of this country has chosen not to. Today is about the men and women that have died in service to their country, regardless of their race, religion, political affiliation, gender, sexuality, marital status and nationality. Today is about someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s father, someone’s aunt or uncle or cousin, someone’s grandfather or grandmother or however many great’s one might need to add, someone’s lover, someone’s partner, someone’s friend.
Today is not about your barbecue or camping trip. It is not about your boat ride, or trip to the beach. It is not about that furniture sale where you were hoping to snag a new area rug or an ottoman. Today is not about you. I don’t think the men and women that chose to put themselves in harm’s way because they believed in the ideal of service and freedom would begrudge you any of those things…indeed, I think many of them, were they still with us, would be enjoying a cold one in the hand and hot one off the grill.
But you and I are not the point of today.
Today exists to remember the fallen.
So please, take at least 5 minutes of your day. I promise everyone can find just a few minutes. And offer up some words in prayer, or meditation, or reflection–whatever fits your theological opinion.
For five minutes of your time put away your politics and think of what it must have been like to be a young kid, far from home, standing in your hot and itchy uniform under a burning sun, shoulder to shoulder, clutching your musket and waiting for the enemy to start their march, not knowing if you will ever see your mother or brother or sweetheart again, with your name and town sewn into your uniform–just in case. For five minutes of time, put away your ego, and think about what it must have been like to wake up to bombs and torpedoes and alarms, as you are surrounded by hellish flames, fighting to make your way to man a gun on hot steel decks slick with oil, even as your ship starts listing. For five minutes of your time, put away your privilege, and imagine yourself as a idealistic kid that couldn’t afford college, having your illusions stripped away and pieces of your humanity reduced to tatters every tour while you watch your baby grow up over the internet.
Every man and woman that serves their country knows that they might die in service. And we all hope to hell we make it home. For five minutes of your time, please take the time to remember the one’s that don’t. For five minutes of your time, please take the time to remember the ones that come home and never get the help they need to come back from war, for their lives have been just as destroyed. For five minutes of your time, please think of those who have also lost friends and family–because today is also about their sacrifice–the loss of their child, their parent, their partner.
Enjoy your barbecue.
And remember to say thank you.