I went for a walk this morning. It’s a beautiful day; currently the temperature is 81 degrees, but there’s a bit of a breeze and the humidity is pretty low so it feels amazing, even in the sunshine. And the sunshine is plentiful.
I passed a garage sale, some kids outside playing, a woman walking a dog. Several houses had American flags out. The smell of a charcoal grill wafted over the neighborhood. Today is one of the nicer Memorial Days (weather-wise) in recent memory.
I thought about all of the things I’m grateful for: the apartment I set out from, my job (from which I have the day off), this new relationship, which is pretty much the greatest.* The fact that I have the ability to follow my passion, that I can write anything I want, anytime that I want. Family, friends. Freedom.
I thought about previous Memorial Days: attending the parade with my dad, marching with the band in high school. I probably didn’t pay much attention to the meaning behind it before, I was just happy to have a day off to start the summer.
I’ve known a few people in my life who have served in the military in some capacity (both grandfathers, a cousin, my boyfriend’s dad), but I’m lucky in that all of them have made it home safely.
Others are not so lucky.
But I still benefit from those sacrifices, which somehow make them more significant. It’s one thing to give up your life on behalf of a loved one; it’s much different to do it for a bunch of strangers.
Everyone who died in service did just that.
If you ask 100 different service men and women why they entered the military, they’ll give you a variety of answers. Some did it for the sense of purpose, because they needed direction, because they couldn’t afford to go to college otherwise. Some make it their careers, see it as a way to travel the world, serve our country. Many have other family members who’ve also served, and they take pride in being able to follow in those footsteps. A few, perhaps, just really like guns, have something to prove (but they’re a tiny minority). Some had no choice in the matter: they were drafted.
Today is a day to honor all of the fallen. To remember those who gave everything so we could have everything we have. This isn’t about politics or patriotism, whether the wars they fought–and died in–were justified. I don’t want to speak for those who died, but I’d imagine they wouldn’t want us to waste the day. Yes, enjoy those barbeques. Spend time with family and friends. Take a walk in the sunshine. And when you do, remember that there are those who made the ultimate sacrifice so you could do all of those things.
*Four months today, but who’s counting? 🙂