Today, I have been contemplating the many that have given their lives for this country. We may not know all their names, but we do know some of them. The ones that we know tend to hit harder, as it was a more personal connection. I may ramble a bit, but I hope you hear me out on this one. Memorial Day is very special to me – in many ways that some cannot understand.
We have several days set aside – Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day. Each has a designation and a meaning. My husband and I are both veterans, and we are proud of that. But there are many who we served with that never made it home. Friends that have joined that paid the ultimate sacrifice. We can never repay that debt, but it is an honor to have that debt – to know that they loved this country and the freedoms we hold, that they would lay down their lives to protect and defend it.
I think often about my grandfather. He was a three war veteran, but he would never discuss his role, or what he did in any of the conflicts he was in. He would always say “listen Beckster, I have seen and done things, and you don’t need to know those things.” I often wish he had unburdened himself, let me cry with him, and be proud of him. It was not until he passed that I found his medals. I can’t tell you how proud I was to find those. But as I sat on his bed holding the purple hearts (and other medals) he was awarded, I was instantly reminded of the men and women he had served with, those who were awarded the medals posthumously, and how their families grieved for their loss.
During my college years, I made a lot of friends, and while we keep in touch with some, others we lose contact with. It was one of those friends that I had not been in contact with for some time, that I discovered had been killed in action in Iraq in December of 2006, and it hit me hard. I remembered the laughs, the study sessions, and the “tough talks” when I was frustrated with a class that we were taking (and to be honest, some of those professors were REALLY hard). But I mostly remembered the fun times – the football games, hugs on bad days, and always the ready joke when it was needed.
It is for these brave men and women that we remember today. We set aside this day to remember the ones that are not coming home. The ones that gave everything, the ones that served selflessly. We honor our gold star families, and their sacrifice as well – the empty chairs at the table, and the pieces of their hearts that will never be whole again. We remember the good times, we remember the tough times, but we can never repay the debt of gratitude that we have for these brave men and women.
Always remember to thank a soldier, but today – remember the ones that didn’t come home. Remember their families.
I hope that as we move forward, we never do forget what this day is about. It is not just a long weekend, or an extra day off of work. It is a day that was set aside after the Civil War to remember the loss of life and later expanded to include all the men and women from every conflict the United States has been involved in.