This weekend, as we go about our plans-be they cookouts, parades, shopping, or the shore (if you live in New Jersey with me)-take a moment to pause and reflect. Monday (May 28th) is Memorial Day here in the US.
After our two fruitless was in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand that the thought of war, soldiers and fighting may not sit well with a whole lot of folks in our current economic situation here in America. But we still need to take that moment to pause and reflect.
From the American Revolutionary War of Independence up to the current war in Afghanistan, American men and women put their lives on the front lines of battle-many paying the ultimate price with their lives. People who knew that the specter of death was a constant companion, yet fought and served with valor. We must reflect on the sacrifices they made-be it on the battlefield, on the seas, in the air, or in space missions like Apollo 1 and on the Challenger Space Shuttle.
And we don’t just remember those who died on the front lines, also those who came back home, gone on to live productive lives, and have since transitioned from this life. These men and women-be it parents, grandparents, children, siblings, or spouses-had a story to tell, a story woven into our collective history and voice that’s America’s. We usually honor these people by parades, visits to cemeteries, or pulling out photo albums and reminiscing.
Plus, those who came home, but weren’t as fortunate. Those who transitioned with the scars of war: the vets who came home to mistreatment by both family and society; the vets who wound up on drugs and died by them; the vets who came home to homelessness and died on the streets; our wounded vets-either by artillery or chemicals; vets mentally wounded by war, torture, or guilt. How about Black soldiers who came home to die at the hands of racism; or not being recognized as heroes until posthumously. We often sweep these people under the rug of our collective memory. However, these men and women are still among the Honored Dead and need to be remembered with dignity as well.
For almost 250 years, these Americans served in a way many of us would never imagine. In fact, many of us would have a hard time making that ultimate sacrifice if called. So while we take time to enjoy this Memorial Day weekend and day, let’s take the time to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by these men and women.
They did their duty, now let’s do ours.