Memorial Day brings so many happy thoughts to my mind: my son’s birthday party, a day off of work, big sales (that I probably won’t take part in but it’s fun to look at the ads), parades, the official beginning of summer, etc.
But then I feel a little tug at my heart that reminds me those shouldn’t be my first thoughts.
I cringe and hate to admit that I’m one of those Americans.
I considered writing a letter to the deceased soldier who I should be reflecting on this weekend, but there are two reasons I can’t:
- I am so unworthy. I so appreciate their sacrifice but haven’t done a lot to express that in my life, partly because I haven’t really known how.
- There are so many of them. I fear that trying to lump them all into one “Dear Soldier” is disrespectful because it does nothing to acknowledge the unique actions and sacrifices made by each one. I don’t know what they (or what their families) experienced, and I don’t want to pretend like I understand.
So with a heavy heart, I must acknowledge my selfishness and the guilt I feel for getting to live like I do. There’s a very good chance that I wouldn’t be here, or at least certainly wouldn’t have the things and the opportunities I have, if it weren’t for all the individuals throughout history who have put aside their own desires for the greater good of their families and a country full of people they didn’t even know.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends. John 15:13
The Ultimate Servant
The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11
To all deceased soldiers including my handsome grandfather I never knew and my sweet friend Kenny who I only knew for a short time:
Your sacrifice was not in vain. I feel grateful, sorry, and guilty all at the same time. I hope to use your gift of freedom to make this world a better place.
To your families:
I can’t say I understand your pain, because I haven’t felt it as deeply as you have. I want you to know that I think of you. I hope you feel the honor that comes with the horrible sacrifice you’ve had to make. I’m sorry that I have not always used this holiday to acknowledge that.
To the living soldiers, veterans, and families:
Thank you. I cry every time I see you or hear about your time away from new babies or missed graduations or the turmoil you experience when you return to the reality of a country full of people who seem uncaring and ill-prepared to help you adjust.
I hope to teach my kids to honor and appreciate all of you in ways that go beyond the simple excitement found at a parade.
Enough words don’t exist to sufficiently honor your sacrifice, but this is my grateful, humble attempt.