A happy Memorial Day to you all, especially those who might be somber today because of a loved one lost in the service of his or her country. Know that they did not die in vain. Whether in combat or not, stateside or abroad, each person who has had the bravery and valor to serve their country deserves our gratitude.
And though this holiday is primarily celebrated by Americans, we’d like to extend the same gratitude and respect to anyone who has served, regardless of country. Sacrificing one’s safety to pursue principles larger than ones self is awesome. Paying the ultimate sacrifice is incredible to fathom.
On Saturday, I took my son Grant to Zachary Taylor National Cemetery here in Louisville. His Cub Scout Troop participates in the annual Memorial Day Weekend Planting of Flags there. On the way, we talked about Memorial Day and what it meant. We talked about people dying for their country, for ideas and ideals larger than themselves. While I’m certain my son (he’s 7) doesn’t quite grasp it all, I’m glad he understood enough about our conversation to be very respectful while planting flags near a couple dozen tombstones.
What he didn’t understand, I did. It was an opportunity for me to think about my Grandfather, a World War II veteran who lost 3/4 of his right leg, a percentage of his right arm and any chance of a normal life in a fox hole in France in 1943. He lived a long, but uncomfortable life until 1993. While I never asked him about the War, I did have a chance to tell him I loved him and say goodbye before he died.
Fortunately for me, I don’t just think about my Granddad on Memorial Day. I think about him every time any notion of the armed forces, patriotism or national pride arise. That’s why I love the National Anthem played at sporting events and other public ceremonies. It makes me think of my Grandfather.
Unfortunately, too many people reserve their respect for our armed forces for this day and maybe the Fourth of July. I’m lucky that I have that personal reminder more frequently. Here’s hoping we can all think about the sacrifices made for our freedoms by others — regardless of our nationality — and find a similar personal reminder for those other days on the calendar.
Then perhaps we’ll all be as thankful as we really should be.
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