For those unaware, I’d like to talk about the American holiday celebrated the last Monday of every May.
For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. BBQ pits from sea to shining sea will be blazing today cooking everything from ribeye steaks to hot dogs to watermelon.
(Yes, grilled watermelon is a thing. TRY IT. Thank me later.)
A few Americans, however, view this holiday less festively. They gather at tombstones of loved ones to place flowers, crosses, and American flags on the graves. This holiday is a day of remembrance for those who gave their lives for their country in war.
Started sometime shortly after the Civil War, the holiday was fully adopted by most states by 1890. It became nationalized as a day of remembrance for all fallen veterans after the two World Wars.
As a Veteran myself, I’d like for everyone to know a truth about soldiers in combat. When I was risking it all, I was not thinking about service to my country. I was thinking about my parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, church, and community. If I was going to die, the United States Government would have thanked me, then forgotten about me. The people close to me, however, would have been the ones to carry the burdens of sorrow.
If I would have died in Iraq, it wouldn’t have been for the USA. It would have been for those people.
And that’s what I fought for; who I fought for.
Regardless of your political leanings and thoughts on the recent wars in the Middle East, a price was paid in real blood by real men and women in service to their country, for their beloved. Like countless others in history, they fought and died for their families, their children, their friends, and their neighbors.
Celebrate today like they would have. Wake up, say a prayer for the lost and the ones left behind, and fire up a BBQ pit to welcome summer time with your family. Take a few extra moments from your grown up conversations to throw those kids in the pool or chase them around with a water hose. Take that dog for an extra walk or throw the ball a few minutes extra. Make sure to hug your loved ones. That’s the things that they would want to do on a day like today.
Make no mistake about it, those fallen few heroes would have enjoyed today with the rest of us. After all, they loved an extra day off of work as well. Have zero regrets about living life and enjoying it today.
Maybe leave an extra cold one on the table when you serve dinner. Any one of them would have proudly had a seat there, telling you stories of honor, valor, humor, and sorrow that only a soldier can possibly understand.
I’m writing this with tears in my eyes in memory of Staff Sergeant Daniel Morris, Specialist Jose Rivera, and Private First Class Brandon Cummings.
I remember, boys. I remember.