Please note: This is a re-post of a Memorial Day piece from a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the moment that inspired it. Happy Memorial Day, and my deepest gratitude to those who serve and have served. We cannot repay your sacrifice, but you will not be forgotten.
We were running a little behind Friday morning, with everyone tired and on the crabby side. I had a passing thought that it was the Memorial Day weekend, and that we ought to put up the flag. But with all the hustle and bustle, it was a fleeting thought, at best; I figured we could put it up after school, with still plenty of time to commemorate our fallen. As we ran out of the house, Little Man stopped, dead in his tracks, and ran back inside. Good Lord, what now? Did he forget his DSi? Nerf weaponry? Pokemon cards? As I lost my patience, and hollered after him, “What on Earth are you doing? We’re gonna be late for school!” my boy came out of the house, unfurling the flag. “It’s Memorial Day weekend, Mom! It’ll only take a second.” He gently placed it into the holder, regarded his handiwork for a moment. Then he ran to the car, saying, “After all, it’s the least we can do for all those soldiers who gave their lives for our flag.” He quickly buckled himself in as I stood there in awe and wonder at the good heartedness of my son.
We have family and friends in Afghanistan this Memorial Day. There is, in this country, a new generation of children growing up without moms and dads, a generation that will lose brothers and sisters and sons and daughters to two, or three wars, depending on who does the counting. The soldiers, sailors, marines and guard members they love did not get to choose these wars, but instead, devoted themselves to a life that they knew may involve surrendering their own life. Whether or not we agree that these wars should ever have happened, or whatever our political affiliations on this holiday, it is vital that we remember the faces behind the uniform, the husbands and uncles, the moms and sisters, and hope for them a speedy return to us so that they may be here to help us celebrate the next Memorial Day.
Please take the time this weekend to remember and give thanks for those who gave their lives in the service of our nation. My gratitude to all who serve. And if your life has gotten so busy that the little things that are so important are forgotten in the rush, take a second to marvel at them, as I had the good fortune to do. Enjoy the picnic. Watch the kids wave their flags at the parade. And marvel in the freedoms we have and so often take for granted. And even if it’s Sunday, put up your flag. Stay safe, Uncle Mike and Uncle Kelby. We love you and miss you and can’t wait for your safe return.
Update: I had the privilege and the honor to spend the morning with a fellow teacher/Navy wife, her sons, and another friend/Navy wife, at our local Veterans’ Home. As we handed out cards our students had made, they were so grateful, and had such inspiring stories to tell. One woman, a Marine, taught fighter pilots how to shoot the guns on their Corsair fighters. Another gentleman, Webster, read us one of his poems, part of a thick, bound volume. Yet another, known as Chief, offered the boys a ride in his motorized chair. I couldn’t help but think how amazing it would be to give them the opportunity to share their stories with young people, stories that need to be heard and not forgotten. I am thinking about how to create an oral history project with my history and language arts students, to build a webpage or even a bound volume of their stories. But more than anything, I came away with the feeling that they, like all our Veterans, deserve so much more than we have given them. Any ideas, my fellow Politicos, to show our gratitude for their service? Please pull up a seat at the Kitchen Table and put your two cents in below!