Thursday, May 26, 2011


Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend which, for many, means time with family, great deals on cars and mattresses, and for a lot of us, an extra day off of work. It’s a chance to not only run errands, but also enjoy some much need down time.

But buried beneath the noise of hot bargains and cold beer lies a deeper, more somber meaning. 

According to*, “Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. [. . .] Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.”

Unity and remembrance: the hallmarks of Memorial Day.

As a nation,we were born in combat, fighting for our independence and then tearing ourselves apart in a bloody civil war a mere 75 years later. Through horrible violence on our siblings, we carved the names of such places as Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and thousands more into the history books. We suffered together and then struggled to heal together. 

In the century and a half since, we have lost sons and daughters in places like Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Africa, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other lesser-known regions. Some battles saw the deaths of thousands while others, only a few. Yet even the loss of one life means that places like Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, the Ia Drang Valley, and more recently Fallujah and Helmand Province, will never be forgotten.  

Nor should they.

But Memorial Day is more than just a day to honor those willing to stand in harms way for our nation.  It is also a day to honor those back home that make sacrifices to love and encourage America’s military men and women. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends all deal with the day-to-day struggles and stresses to support their loved ones when they leave on gray-bottomed ships or large, multi-engine planes. Some stay glued to the news while others do their best to continue with their normal lives.  But each carries the heavy weight of worry and fear that their loved one will return home draped in a flag. 

Combat is hard on those in the military, but it is no easier on the ones who wait and pray every night for their safe return. As a nation, we should remember to honor those who spend countless hours worrying, crying, and laughing over our military men and women. 

So to Nate, Jennifer, Seth, Scott, and the others, I will never forget you.  To the Travelling Parson, to Granddaddy, and especially to Dad (who was both a hero to his men and to a young boy in need of a role model), I thank you. To my bother and sister Warriors and Misfits, and to each branch of the military, I salute you.  And to my family, as well as all the others who stay up late at night, wishing and praying for their loved one’s safe return, I honor you.

And we, as a nation, will remember you.  

*For more information about the history and traditions of Memorial Day, please visit

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