Monday, May 27, 2013
Remembering... Not just on Memorial Day, but always.
Today, our nation celebrated Memorial Day... a day not meant for BBQ and trips to the beach... a day meant to be set aside as an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives in service to our country. (for more on the history of Memorial Day, there's a good summary here: http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html)
Since our country's beginning, more than 1.2 million heroes have laid down their lives in combat. Many more have been lost later as a result of service - to suicide, to cancer and illnesses as a result of exposures, to alcohol and drugs used to "self medicate" and run from the memories of war. And, each of these heroes left behind a family and friends - people for whom life will never be the same, people who carry the costs and losses of service with them every day.
My daughter and I were in the car this afternoon listening to a local radio station. The station was encouraging people to call and share stories of loved ones who had been lost in service to their country. As one caller shared the story of his grandfather who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, my sweet seven year old answered his plea at the conclusion of his story, "I just hope people will remember him and the many others who have served and given their lives" with the simplicity of her youth... "I will remember."
Each of us enjoy the benefits of those lives every day. We enjoy our lives - our freedoms - our homes and families... we enjoy the experience of living in a democratic country... we pass through our days all too often with relatively little thought for those who paid the price for all of our liberties.
We fail to remember.
In many Veteran families, failing to remember is an impossibility. The heroes lost visit many nights... their last moments coming in the form of nightmares. Their stories are something that not only our Veterans know, but they become part of the fabric of our homes. We know their names. We know the families they left behind. We know the "what ifs". We know the "if only's".
So today - and really for the last week - as with every Memorial Day, my hero here at home and many (mannnnnnnny) heroes around the country have struggled and warred, cried and yelled, grieved and missed those they knew. It is a solemn time in our family... a difficult time... but honestly, in a strange way, I'm grateful that at least we don't fail to remember. I'm grateful that for our family the meaning of Memorial Day is very clear. I'm grateful that there is no danger of us forgetting or becoming complacent to the costs paid by those who serve. Carrying that torch is painful, but a solemn responsibility... a promise to carry them forward, knit close to our hearts, and forever a part of our story.
And so, we are here remembering.
May our heroes rest in peace and may we each live lives worthy of such sacrifice.
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and Life After Combat!