Today is a day of celebration. It is to remember and celebrate the brave people who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. For the families of those lost in battle, their presence is felt everyday. Yet, for those of us lucky enough to have not felt that pain, we tend to forget past the celebration day of what it really means.
The celebration of Memorial Day began in 1868, originally called Decoration Day. The intent was to honor the lives lost in past wars by decorating graves with flowers. Tradition lives on in Arlington Cemetery. I won’t pretend to be a history buff, but I can tell you this.. if you feel this day was marked on the calendar as an honorary “start to summer”, you are wrong. Families are grieving. Children are missing a parent, Parents have buried their children and wives & husbands are raising families alone. They do not celebrate Memorial Day as a way to start summer. They celebrate their freedom, a price that was paid by the ones they love and lost. The American flag flies for those souls who can not be here today to hold the hands of their first love. The ones who will never see their babies grow to be adults. And the ones who will never know how appreciated and cherished they are.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by military members, friends and family. I have never served in the Armed Forces, yet I am honored to call those brave men and women who do friends. They have something I never will… gumption. Their decision to uphold sacrifice, honor, and loyalty was decided at such a young age, yet the majority of them have never thought twice about it. Our heroes do not wear capes. They wear camo. They carry the faith of our country on their shoulders and in their hearts. They rely on our understanding and loyalty to do the job that most of us can’t. THEY are the heros. Not you and me. We may be at home keeping the family moving along, but what we do every day is miniscule in comparison.
I hope I don’t sound ungrateful to anyone who doesn’t or hasn’t served in the military. I, too, could never have committed to doing so. I had never had the drive or guts to let go of everything I know to become a new person, signing myself over. I wanted something different. There is nothing wrong with a difference of choice. But there is something wrong with a lack of patriotism. Our fellow Americans, the ones who have fought for our freedom, deserve our attention today (and everyday!). Most of you know that I’m pursuing my dream of writing. I’m not a political writer by any means. In fact, that is a topic that I intentionally avoid. I have my views and opinions, which is not necessary to speak of today, but I do value those who are honored today. I commend those families who strive even after a great tragedy of war. I hope to never know your pain. I wish you calm and peace. Your perseverance is key to this nation. For if it weren’t for you, we would collapse. We need strong shoulders to stand with. Some of us are not made of stone, the stone in which parents are carved when their sons and daughters tell them of their want and need to join the Armed Forces; a brotherhood we will never know. That is a lifestyle that I will never understand. I sit in the sidelines, along with millions of others, and watch in amazement at the nature of your life. You have stood tall, proud and strong, knowing that one day, you too could make that deal. The deal that you made at the age of 18; the one that said you will proudly lay yourself down for the sake, sanity, and freedom of others. Praise you!
I watched my mom for years. She was one of those moms who had no choice but to give her son over to the military. He proudly joined before his eighteenth birthday, excited to join that brotherhood. My parents held back their tears, the way most parents do. Their love and admiration had to scream louder than their fear. As a parent of small kids, I have not met this fear (yet). But I know of countless parents who have. They cry tears of fear when a deployment comes around; they cry tears of joy when they receive their by-weekly phone call to say “I’m okay!”; and they may also cry tears of heartbreak when the officers come to their door to deliver tragic news. All of this is the reason why we celebrate today.
Friends, I leave you with this.. You may know more about the true meaning of such a patriotic holiday than I do. I will hold you in my heart as I do my husband, brother, uncle, cousin, and grandfathers. I applaud you for your dedication to those who serve in the military because without your love, they would not be so strong. But today is not about you and I and the family in the background. Today is about the lives lost. I admire you, yet I applaud them!
Happy Memorial Day!