This is the fourth year of my life since Memorial Day changed. As a child, it was all about marking the kick off to summer. We’d always been more than done with school (yay home schooling) but Memorial Day meant that the beach and unlimited friend time was finally here. Sure, we thought patriotic thoughts and all, but mostly, we barbecued, swam, and thrilled in life.
Then I met B. He changed everything about my life. But most particularly, he changed how I view the military. It was no longer a grand abstract idea. Instead, it became the burden and blessing that all military service members and their families bear. The burden of freedom and sacrifice. The blessing of the same.
It’s our fourth Memorial Day together. We’ve been spared the burden of deployment. The hours are long and often unpredictable. One person’s mistake here can cost hours of work for hundreds of people, as it did yesterday. But it doesn’t cost lives, not this time.
Memorial Day is our day to remember our fallen heroes. To remember the sacrifices that allow us to revel in freedom. To remember, that whatever our political persuasion, whatever our feelings on war, whatever our feelings on peace, we share the burden and the blessing of supporting our troops. We honor those who have made the greatest sacrifice in order to remember why they died. Remembering allows us the freedom from repeating the past. It keeps alive the spirit of the young men and women who give their all to their country.
This Memorial Day, I’m baking cookies to celebrate my husband’s promotion ceremony tomorrow. And as I do, I’m remembering the young men we lost last year. This year, Memorial Day bears faces, names, and dates. It is a burden and a blessing to remember them.
“These heroes are dead. They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead.” — Robert G. Ingersoll
Cheers for the living. Tears for the dead.