Memorial Day – 2011
It’s Memorial Day – flags will be lowered to half staff to honor those who gave all to defend our freedoms, graves will have flags placed upon them and wreaths will be set to honor the ultimate sacrifice. Parades will be held and many will be saluted for their service.
Shadows will be cast upon headstones as visitors stand looking down at gravesites, and tears will fall with a whisper of “thank you”. Monuments will have hands placed upon them out of respect to reflect upon those whom we honor today.
It’s Memorial Day, and regardless of which conflict that “all”, was given, everyone of us should be mindful that without these brave men and women who took an oath to defend our great nation, there would be no barbecues to attend, no Memorial Day sales to catch, no 3-day weekend to enjoy, or fireworks to watch …. There would be no freedom to celebrate as we do, because freedom is many things, but the one thing it isn’t, is “free”. Someone has to pay that price, and those some ones deserve this day to mean more than a cold beer, the smell of charcoal, and summer shorts on sale at Old Navy.
I recently had the privilege of hearing an astonishing story told by Jack Carver, a 92-year old retired Army Lieutenant, who fought at The Battle of the Bulge. The majority of men who filled this room were themselves WWII and Korean War veterans who sat a little straighter and held their heads a little higher, with pride and respect as Jack took us all to a hill in Germany filled with SS tanks, and proudly told about the day when a jeep pulled up on the front lines to find himself face- to- face with his hero, General Patton, who left with the words, “You boys are doing one hell of a job, keep it up!”
Jack told of shells being fired as he and a couple of his buddies tried to take cover, and the moment he realized he had been hit. As fate would have it, the one that struck him was a dud and was hung up in the collar of his uniform. When he looked to his right, his one friend has been critically injured, and the buddy to his left had been killed. He kept that shell as a reminder that his life had been spared that day while someone else paid the price. I’m sure that today will be a day that Jack will reflect on those he served with and those who were lost. At 92-years of age, no doubt Jack has known too many goodbyes, and too many to remember this Memorial Day.
How many of us will take the time on this day to actually do something to honor our Fallen, or is this a day that only touches those who paid the ultimate price along with their loved ones?
It appears in many ways that perhaps we have lost ourselves along the way somehow, and this day has become someone else’s job to remember while we attend all the festivities and gatherings of the first long weekend of summer.
Before you bite into that burger, remember this…… “The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it -The American flag flies from the last breath of each, military member who has died protecting it!” ~ Unknown
Happy Memorial Day, and I hope you will do something that honors that “last breath”.