I was pondering this morning about how, when I was a kid, I didn't really think much about Memorial Day. It was a day off, and there was often grilling and swimming. It was the official start of summer revelry after a year of school. I didn't really consider those who sacrificed so much so that I could enjoy those picnics in peace, freedom, and safety. Ah, the blindness of youth.
My grandfather was a decorated veteran, of World War II, I believe (he didn't talk about it). According to my mother, he faked his age to join the war, so he had two birth years during his life--the official one and the real one. He didn't die in the war, but he certainly gave a great deal, which is probably why he didn't talk about the experience much. My mom still has the awards he won.
When I was a child, he was the only person I think I knew who had ever served. I know a great deal more now, both friends and family through marriage. My father-in-law is a Vietnam veteran, a Navy pilot. I know people who fought in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan. Like my grandfather, they survived these wars, but today reminds me of all they sacrificed.
Thank you to all who have taken time away from your families for not enough pay just to keep us safe and free. Thank you to all who huddled in trenches, flew planes and helicopters into danger, and suffered through terrible conditions.
Thank you most of all to those who gave their lives in service. May you be in the most beautiful heaven of your personal faith, enjoying the rewards for your valor.