Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Memorial Day 2009 (a serious post)
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of every May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who have died while in military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. On this 25th day of May, 2009, let us remember all those brave men and women who have died in military service to our great nation.
For just a day anyway let’s not think about the feeble state of our economy, or the flawed policies enacted by our misguided government leaders, or the fact that we continue to lose lives in the Middle East almost daily in a war we never should have started in the first place. For just a day anyway let’s instead focus on the ultimate sacrifice made by those in the military to keep our country safe and free. They didn’t start the wars, and they didn’t even necessarily approve of the wars they fought in, yet they bravely gave up their lives for all of us back home who can’t possibly imagine what they must have gone through.
I wake up every day next to my wife. I kiss my kids and send them off to school. I go to work and converse gingerly with my customers. I eat lunch at nice restaurants. I come home and have dinner with my family. We go to the movies, or out to a ballgame, or take a walk in the park together. Then we go to sleep in our warm beds and wake up and do it all over again the next day.
Our soldiers in the Middle East wake up every day alone and think about the loved ones they left behind. They nervously converse with other soldiers and civilians and hope to get through another day alive. They don’t eat lunch in nice restaurants and they don’t get to come home and have dinner with their families. They smoke cigarettes, or play cards, or drink beer, or do whatever it is they have to, to stay distracted long enough to avoid thinking about what their loved ones are probably doing back home. They sleep on uncomfortable cots and in sleeping bags and lie awake at night wondering if they’ll be able to make it through another day. They operate in an uneasy haze day after day in a world we can’t possibly understand, and some of them will never make it back home to their families.
It’s so easy to take for granted the minutia of our everyday lives, and to not appreciate how good we have it. Granted, our lives will always be filled with problems, barriers, and disappointments. But we all have the opportunity to be happy. Happiness is a way of life that’s inside us at all times. It's a state of mind that helps us get through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. We can choose to be happy or choose not to be, but at the end of the day we all have a choice.
Those who have died serving our country no longer have this choice, but because of their sacrifice we do. On this Memorial Day, 2009, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all those who have sacrificed their lives in military service to our great nation and to pay a debt of gratitude to the families they left behind. I also want to extend a sincere thank you to all those who are still serving our country in the Middle East. I may not agree with why you’re there, but I respect and admire you, and truly appreciate the sacrifices you make every single day.
The next time I’m out in a restaurant or bar and I see a soldier I’m going to by them a beer and say thanks. I hope everyone who reads this does the same. God speed and good health.