Another Memorial Day is coming upon us. This weekend will be full of parades, wreath layings, flag waving, and speeches about those of us who made the “ultimate sacrifice.” There will be cookouts, beach openings here in New Jersey, sales, and the official “start” of summer.
Before I prepare for the long weekend, I want to take our focus off the dead for a moment and focus on the living. Not that I’m dismissing the sacrifices made by those who’ve gone on ahead-no. However, we need to remember those still left behind: the active serviceperson, the veteran, the families, and the rest of us affected by war. Because at the end of the day it’s the living that’s still here.
Despite all the fanfare and rhetoric, it’s the living left behind who are affected the most. It’s the widowed, the orphaned, the serviceperson still in combat, the battle-scarred veteran, the battle-scarred civilians, the refugees, the POWs-all those still alive. As we lay wreathes on age-old memorials, families are visiting graves of those recently killed in action; still wounded from the pain of loss. As we salute our veterans at parades, we forget the many who sleep on streets and have lost their mind due to PTSD, drugs, or other traumas in their lives yet to be healed. As we travel to-and-fro this holiday weekend, there are soldiers currently in harm’s way overseas. As we go to cookouts and work on home projects this weekend, there are many in war-torn lands without home, basic necessities, and without peace; many had to flee to other places for safety. And last, as our President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there are many “unknowns” who have fallen through the cracks.
It’s the living, my friends, that need our remembrance. For they bear the scars of war that the dead never have to anymore. The dead will never hear our words of praise and gratitude. However, the living need to hear our words of comfort, of encouragement, of support and care, of justice, of peace. It’s the living that need assistance: the homeless drug addicted vet; the child struggling with the loss of a soldier parent; the refugees looking for a new home; and so much more to discuss.
So this Memorial Day-and every day-let’s remember the living as well as the dead. Then we will truly honor those who we pay honor to.
(Image above: taken by Me).