May 25, 2014

My Thoughts About Our Memorial Day

My Thoughts About Our Memorial Day
Bosnia circa 1996
Personally feeling a little conflicted about a lot of the posts on G+ and Facebook about remembering Veterans on Memorial Day. When I enlisted there was some friction from my "pacifist" Mennonite family. Probably didn't help that I entered a combat career field (quite uncommon for the Air Force). On a fundamental level I appreciate any recognition or even acknowledgement of my service, but last I checked I'm still alive.

My day comes in November....November 11th to be specific.

Tomorrow is to remember those that died in service to our country. While most know or can name a Veteran, I bet most cannot say the same for those that have made this ultimate sacrifice. This isn't a condemnation, but is actually something that should be celebrated because it means we've enjoyed, as a people, the rewards earned by those efforts that have come at such a heavy price.

Now I think the base idea behind Memorial Day should extend longer than a single day, but at a minimum is should be appropriately acknowledged. Fire up the grill, drink some beers with your friends, have a party....just take some time to show some appropriately-placed respect.

Do you even know where your local military cemeteries are?

When I was in Holland I stopped at the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. I barely remember the museum itself, but the trip was so emotional that I'm almost crying now thinking about it. Near the museum is a cemetery where so many of the Paratroopers that perished in the Battle of Arnhem are interred. My visit was on an "ordinary" day and as I walked through the cemetery, reading the grave markers, I came across a number of families with small children paying their respects. The children would lay flowers on the graves and the parents explained why it was important to honor these strangers' sacrifice. These weren't families of the deceased visiting their ancestors, they were ordinary Dutch families teaching the next generation that freedom, and their very existence, is possible because of these soldiers.

Compare this to how our people recognize, or don't, our "honored" dead.   Hell, I bet my local Furniture Row is still flying a tattered flag, but at least they have a Memorial Day Sale.....because the dead purchase so much furniture. This might seem mean, but I think it is a fitting metaphor for how our country treats Memorial Day: Superficial and Disrespectful.

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