Monday, May 27, 2013
Memorial Day. A solemn day. A reflective day. A sad day. But, only for those who have a personal tie to it. The rest of the country calls it picnic day and beer day and camping day and a few think it is Veteran's Day. But, it's not.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.
For some of us, it is personal. We have lost a loved one or a friend. In modern America, few know anyone who has served or fallen, and they have very little patience with those of us who have. They often turn a cold heart towards those who grieve. Others are just insistent that it is Veterans' Day and want to thank people and buy them a beer.
For some of us, we will go to the cemetery, be it in person or virtually. Some of us have a short distance to go and some of us a very long distance. Some of us look at the pictures we have taken, reaching out ever so gently to touch the image of those far away places in order to feel closer to the person we lost. We will do the same with their pictures. We will remember.
For some of us, we will reflect on the life of the person we have lost. We will remember what was and the dreams of what might have been. Our memories will briefly comfort our loneliness.
For some of us, we will tuck away that inconsolable loneliness for another year, except for those many moments every day and especially at night, that are always with us.
For some of us, decades will pass and we will still feel the same as we did that very first year.
For some of us, it breaks our heart just a little more when you say "Happy Memorial Day." Forgive us for not finding anything to be happy about. Forgive us for being disgusted with your lack of knowledge of the meaning of one of our country's most important holidays.
I will go visit the cenotaph of a young man who never made it back from a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines. I will view the picture of the headstone of that sweet young man from my youth, I will think of those friends I can not visit, and the son of a lady I care so much for, and through my tears, I will call up their headstone pictures and remember them and their precious lives. I will think of the neighbor boy - and the boy who pumped my gas who was tortured to death by Islamists - and the young man I met and prayed with at the National Day of Prayer that died in Iraq a few years later. I will remember those that personally touched me. I will remember those I never knew.
Then, when I am about cried out, I will remember a nation so ungrateful that they can't even be bothered with the meaning of the holiday.
Don't wish me a Happy Memorial Day - it's more than I can bear.