What does Memorial Day mean to you? I mean, really mean. And I don’t ask that to be some condescending jerk or anything but I’m thinking about the first time that it *really* hit me what Memorial Day meant.
I was in Iraq on my first tour and we’d gone to the chow hall. When you’re in Iraq, all the days blend together. Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter - they’re all the same except for when you go to the chow hall. Then you’ll get a sense that there’s some occasion going on. Our chow hall folks go all out to make the holidays special.
But Memorial Day that year hit home. We’d already lost a few soldiers on our tour. It was a rough year in Mosul that year. So there we were, going for the chow hall for dinner. It was chicken and rice because you can eat the vegetables at your own peril.
There were some red white and blue ribbons out there but it was when we walked to the door that it really sank in.
There were pictures of our fallen. Images of the Vietnam Memorial in DC. Images of the soldier’s cross, the dog tags, boots, helmet and rifle that marked the memorial for our brothers and sisters that we’d lost.
The war hit me hard at that moment. I remember choking up and just stopping for a minute. It was a powerful testimony to how easy it is to go through your day, do your job and not really think about things other than the immediate next thing.
Memorial Day is a time for us to celebrate the beginning of summer, with barbecues and time with friends and family.
But I’d ask that you take a moment to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. To say a prayer if you pray or to take a moment of silence if you don’t. Just take a moment to remember. To honor our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us.
And hope that it is a long time before we engage in another war where we add to the list of names on our memorials around the nation.