Memorial Day has always meant a lot to me. My grandfather was in WWI, and his son, my father; served in WWII. I went to college with boys who went to Viet Nam; some returned and others did not. My step-daughter, a graduate of West Point, went to war right after her graduation in 2001. She had five deployments in all before she came home for good.
I am one of many whose people fought and died for the freedoms and way of life we enjoy today. I can never forget them, and especially on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Veterans’ Day; actually I think of them all every day.
I grew up in a time where every morning in grammar school we stood, hands on hearts, to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Following that, we sat in our seats, heads bowed and hands palm to palm to say the Lord’s Prayer aloud. It was the routine of our lives, and no one thought a thing about it. In fact, the only division in our little classroom was whether you were Catholic or Protestant.
As the last war was still recent in our history, we had air raid drills daily. This meant that we all had to crouch under our wooden desks, heads down and arms and legs tucked in. This way if the school was bombed we had some protection. When our teacher gave us the “all clear,” we sat back in our seats and went on with the day.
We read avidly about our country’s history, our presidents, our military men and women and our heroes. We developed a deep appreciation of the freedoms we had. We just couldn’t imagine living in a country where you couldn’t speak your mind, go where you wanted to, go to the church you wanted to attend; the rest of the world never seemed as good as where we were in America.
We revered our military and our veterans. It always broke my heart when, while watching the town’s 4th of July parades, those gallant old military men marched along. Some walked, some limped, some were in wheelchairs, some in cars. But each and every one of them wore the same expression on their faces; dignified, strong and resolute. Looking at them, I always felt inspired to do the best I could with my life.
Today let us all remember those who fought and died for us all. Let us all remember to thank all who served and helped protect our way of life. Let us today remember. Let us be thankful to live in freedom. Let us be glad for a roof overhead, food and water, love and honor, and all the people we love. Let us be thankful today and every single day for all who sacrificed and all who served and continue to serve.
Most of all, let us never forget that our freedoms are not free; they were paid for in blood and sacrifice. Let us thank at least one person today who served and let them know that their time was worth it. Today is the day to remember. Let us remember, but most of all, let us never forget.