Monday, May 28, 2012
It's Memorial Day. The harbinger of summer. The day of cookouts and pool parties and afternoon movies when the mercury stretches too high. But what is it really?
It's a century-plus old observance, a day set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. And in these post-9/11 days of patriotism, it's a day when we look around to anyone who has dedicated their lives to the service and defense of our country and we say "thank you."
So thank you to my Dad, who served in the Army in Vietnam.
Thank you to my father-in-law, who served stateside in the Navy.
Thank you to my uncles Jerry, Paul and Chris for their service.
Thank you to my grandfather who served on the USS Texas and was part of both the D-Day invasion and the securing of Iwo Jima. He was captured and spent time as a Japanese POW, an experience he still will not discuss.
Thank you to Mike's grandfather who was part of the team that prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the trials at Nuremberg.
But the thanks go beyond that.
Through friends I've met in recent years, I've come to understand that it takes a village to send a soldier to defend a country. It takes husbands and wives and children who are willing to part with their family member for months at a time so we can enjoy the freedoms our armed forces protect. Thank you.
It takes people like my uncle Howie, who volunteers at his local USO chapter, so our veterans feel appreciated and heard. Thank you.
What does it take to celebrate Memorial Day?
It takes each one of us to stop at some point in this day and be grateful for our freedoms and their sacrifices. To fly a flag outside of our home. To visit a military cemetery or a patriotic concert. Or to pick up the tab for a soldier and his or her family when we see them in a restaurant.
At the very least, it just takes a simple "thank you."