May 31, 2010

The older I get, the more it means

As a child and a teenager, Memorial Day meant little more than cookouts and an extended weekend.  In actuality, I can't even remember a single Memorial Day that stands out more than any other summer day from my youth.  I'm sure we spent the day at my grandparents' house, perhaps at our own house, grilling and drinking Kool-Aid.  And though, I'm sure I was told what Memorial Day meant to the population at large, it meant very little to me back then.  I was a kid and had no connections I could make between the holiday and my own life.

My grandfather served in the military, my uncle served, and my father had served.  But their experiences were never discussed so far as I could remember.  In fact, the only I do remember is watching a video of my uncle that had been converted from 8mm reel-to-reel to VHS many years ago.  I also remember being told once that I was to never ask my grandfather about his time in World War II.  He saw and experienced things that apparently were beyond discussion and comprehension.

As I've gotten older, having recently celebrated my 41st birthday, Memorial Day has come to mean more and more, especially in light of 9/11 and of the ongoing wars that the USA has created or has involved themselves.  It is easy to get wrapped up in hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks and picnics.  But, what we must do is take time to stop and remember those who have given their lives in the name of serving our country.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the military actions this country has taken or not.  Memorial Day is not about politics.  It is about honoring the men and women who donned military uniforms and who stood in harm's way to sacrifice their own lives.   It is with honor and reverence that we take this day to pause and say thanks to those who survived their military careers to live beyond those years and who passed on outside of their service time.  Any veteran who has since moved on from this world should be held high today and brought to the forefront of our memories.

The outward expression of our genuine gratitude demonstrates itself in the form of a US flag rippling in the breeze, for it is that very flag that represents everything those who served were protecting.  If you have a flag on your home, take a moment and watch it.  Remember the men and women whose blood, sweat and tears make up the very fabric with which that flag is allowed to be flown.  If you do not have a flag, please consider getting one.  For all that is right with this country and for all that is wrong, we fly the flag today for those who played a part in the freedoms we enjoy - whether that part was small or large. 

The older I get, the more I understand and appreciate everything that has been done, and is being done, by the men and women of our military forces so that I can say, "I'm proud to be an American."

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