As we celebrate the official start of summer with backyard grilling, special sales, and the grand opening of just about every pool in the country, I hope that we make sure to stop, however briefly, and appreciate those that have made all of this possible. Memorial Day is a time to look back and honor those who have given their lives so that we may live as we do.
In our house, Memorial Day has a particularly special meaning. Ten years ago, I served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. I remember holing up in a gutted out office building that overlooked the city so that we could keep watch on our area of operations. It was nice to finally have walls around us and working sewage and, after 2 months with no shower, washing ourselves and our uniforms on a rooftop with cold water from a hose just felt like heaven!
Over the course of my time there, we got into a few scraps and I know a few guys who were killed or injured. All in all, though, we were pretty lucky and I got to come home with minimal damage. My hips and lower back have perpetual dull pain and I am learning to deal with the issues in my head, but I am alive and functioning.
To honor those the were not so lucky, we took our kids to place flags on the graves of veterans at local cemeteries. For us, it is important for them to understand and honor the sacrifice that people make for freedom. It may be a bit much for them to get now, but this simple activity starts to raise questions for my 6-year-old. That awareness is a great step! As it happens, I had my camera with me and I took a number of pictures of the kids placing the flags. Take a second to look, to remember, and to honor those who have given so much.
To those honored souls who have given everything that they have to give to protect this nation, those they loved, and their cherished freedom and to those families who have paid such a dear price, I stand up and salute you on this day of remembering. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!