Memorial Day for many means the unofficial start of summer. It brings to mind barbecues, family get-togethers, parades with small children waving small American flags. It’s hot dogs, hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob and cherry pie.
What many do not see happening behind the scenes are those who travel from cemetery to cemetery placing flags on gravestones or those who work tirelessly throughout the year to help our veterans with the daily struggles of life.
In a blog I posted last year on my Antiques site, I mentioned that my son was serving in the Army infantry and had spent nine months overseas in Afghanistan. That was a hard time for him, a true culture shock, I am sure. Today he is stationed at Ft. Lewis in Washington State and will be released from duty next month. In the coming days and weeks, he will begin a new journey in life, one that includes finding a job and going to college. What hasn’t changed since I wrote that article is how proud I am of him.
While he will call from time to time to complain about something ‘unfair’ or ‘too hard,’ with a little nudge and encouragement he makes it through. As he is a whole country away from me there is not much I can do to help other than provide a sympathetic ear and some motherly advice.
My father served in the Marines and today he is active with the retired Marine Corp League in his town. I have pictures of my father; young and fresh out of high school, in his military uniform standing tall and proud in front of the Rome Coliseum. Today he will march in the parade. He has been busy placing those flags on graves and he tirelessly helps others when there is a need.
Memorial Day is an exciting time of year because it does mark that start to our favorite season, but it should also be a time where we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those men and women who gave their lives so we could celebrate on this day. It only takes a moment to do.
My mind often goes to those brave men, who in WWII stormed the shores of Normandy with slim chances of making it alive. They did so to save the world from an oppressor, a man who tried to rule the world and killed so many, intentionally, in the process.
It boggles my mind that as a human race we allow such people to become rulers and put into motion events that will eventually reap such casualties. It’s not always a single person either. In the last several years we have seen many countries begin and still fight civil wars, governments who kill the very people they were sworn to protect, opposition groups who are intent on overthrowing the government rather than trying to make it better, extremist groups who level villages and kidnap young girls and Governments that use propaganda to take over other countries.
Do these people ever stop to think about how they will be remembered? When history looks back upon them, will it be with kinder eyes than they had? Or will we even take the time to remember them at all?
I have no memories of WWII, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye at that point, but I’ve heard the stories, watched the shows and even took a college class on the subject. Of all the events of that time that are discussed, what we focus on are the individuals; those normal everyday people who answered the call, stepped up to the plate and did something they never thought possible…they became heroes.
Those are the people who are remembered today. And those are the people who should always be remembered.