I have a confession to make. To me, Memorial Day has always meant a cook-out and a day off from work and school. We don't come from a military family, and in fact, I don't even know many military families. We do fly a flag and say that we support our men and women in combat, but we don't sport magnetic ribbons on our cars or send care packages to people in Iraq. We don't attend parades or go to memorial services on this day. We watch the news, but I usually turn it off when it gets to Iraq because I hate to hear anything bad.
I'm really quite ashamed of my blase' attitude toward the life and death struggle that is happening in the Middle East. And how I just give lip-service to those who have served in previous wars so that we can enjoy our hotdogs and baked beans on a Monday in May.
But perhaps because of the ages of my children, (13, 18, 20 and son-in-law 21) it has become easier than ever this year to imagine myself sending my kids off to fight in a terrible war. I swallow hard when the names of Americans killed in action scroll across the screen and then I almost can't let my mind even think about the poor mothers and fathers who must bear the news that their beloved child has been killed. I imagine the heatbreak and the sorrow, the anger and the pride I would feel if I were in their place. And I imagine the horrible loss of my own beautiful child, my baby, my treasure. How could I bear it? How do THEY do it?
This day really is about remembering those who have sacrificed. Not just the people in combat, but the families here at home who are without their loved ones, and who wait for calls and emails and the end of a tour of duty. I want to say thank you to the moms and dads who are waiting for their boys and their girls to come home.
And I send a special thank you to the moms and dads who will never really stop waiting, wishing and grieving for their son or daughter who never made it home. A thank you to the husbands, wives and children who will always miss their loved one and never get to see them again. As I eat my picnic lunch and toss a frisbee today, you will be remembering the smiles and special things about your child, or your husband or wife. Memorial Day, to you, is bitter-sweet and about much more than chips and drinks. I hope you know that we are grateful for the sacrifice your loved one made, and that on this day, we remember your sacrifice as well.
Thank you, to all who have served. And thank you to all who love and miss those who have served. We are forever in your debt.