This weekend marks a lot of things. For most Americans, it’s just a weekend of partying, sales, and fun summer beginnings. It’s picking out cute outfits to wear, making plans with friends to barbecue, or taking the boat out for the day. But for people that understand the meaning of this holiday it is so much more, and it is not a happy holiday. This holiday is a day to remember the fallen. Those who have given their lives serving this country.
It baffles me that so many of us lack the knowledge and understanding of this day. Growing up in a military family, it was engrained in me from day one never to say Happy Memorial Day, because there is nothing happy about this holiday. Basically, every male in my family has sacrificed and served our country since the revolutionary war. My dad served almost 27 years in the Air Force and both my brothers are in the Army. Growing up I heard stories of my Great Uncle Bruce who died in Vietnam, leaving behind my Great Aunt and their kids, 2 years old and 6 months old. I saw years later, how it still affected our family.
I watched as my dad had to tell our family’s friends their father and husband weren’t coming home. I watched my dad in angst as he went on missions searching for the bodies of his fellow brothers in arms, so that their families could at least have a body to bury. I made meals with my mother to take to families who were mourning the loss of their father/mother, husband/wife. I watched my parents carry the weight of trying to care for our friends as their families were shattered, trying to comprehend the weight those now single parents carried as they tried to be strong for their families, but also mourn the loss of their spouse. I’ve met parents who have lost their children in harm’s way. The sacrifices the men and women serving our country make is unfathomable, along with the sacrifices of their loved ones.
I remember the feelings of my father being deployed to the Middle East (multiple times), and the sobs of relief when he would get off that plane months later in America. Not even able to comprehend the pain someone feels when their love one doesn’t walk off that plane, but instead is carried off. I’ve seen a family of all girls lose their dad and grow up with the strongest momma, missing their dad every day. Never getting to have him there to see them graduate elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. Not getting to be there for their soccer games, or any of the little or big moments through their lives. But seeing the pain that never goes away, it just gets easier to hide.
I constantly fear for my brothers as they serve our country, as I know my parents do as well. But we are so proud of the decisions they have made to serve our country. Serving this country is a massive sacrifice that we Americans constantly take for granted. The fact people think it’s okay to not stand during the national anthem at football games continues to break my heart, as players don’t understand what these soldiers sacrifice for freedom’s sake.
My hope for us this Memorial Day is that we would not forget what this holiday means. That we would take a moment, not just today, but every day to be grateful for the sacrifice the men and women of our Armed Forces make. It’s okay to go have fun today and appreciate the freedom we get to have, but make sure to be sensitive towards those who struggle on this day. My heart aches for each and everyone of you that has lost someone you love to the service of this Nation. Thank you to all who choose to sacrifice for the freedom of this country. God bless.