One of the best things about a blog is that from time to time I can say things that I couldn’t ordinarily express. This may be one of those times.
But, I digress…and I likely will again. Today is Memorial Day in the United States, the unofficial beginning of summer, an excuse for retailers to lower their prices slightly to take advantage of the increased volume, and an opportunity for many to sleep late. There will be parades today–I’ll take my three-year old great-grandson to one, and the service afterwards. I’ll also sleep late, and take advantage of at least one Memorial Day sale to get some lumber and maybe some groceries.
I’ll also go up to the VA Hospital to see a buddy of mine–one of my oldest friends–who May not leave there alive. His Memorial Day “celebration” for 20+ years of service might be a lung transplant. But he’s marginal for that, so it’s likely to be a laurel-and-hearty handshake from some stranger to thank him for his lifetime of service, and the sacrifice of his health, wealth and welfare for the freedom of the Republic.
Many of us will go to cemeteries and see the ocean of flags decorating the resting places of thousands–millions, even–of men and women who did the same as my buddy up in the VA. Many made the ultimate sacrifice far away. Many others were accused of crimes committed by others in conflicts they didn’t understand. Some others died ignobly of the flu, or food poisoning, or a ruptured appendix. But most of those in those graves with the flags, you understand, died at home, peacefully of natural causes, with their families around them, having done their bit years or even decades before. Not all of them were blown apart by artillery, or cut in half by machine guns, or caught by a sniper’s bullet, or met their Makers in any of the myriad ways people get killed in war.
The one thing that all of them share–all of them in those flag-bedecked graves that most Americans will honor by sleeping late, lounging in the back yard, taking advantage of five-year special financing or going to the beach–was the fact that they didn’t make their sacrifices so they could be honored with flags and five-year special financing after they did the Mortal Coil Shuffle. Nope. They did it so the beach and sleeping late and special five-year financing would be possible in a free republic that has the honor and the luxury of putting a real estate mogul/reality TV star into the highest elected office in the land.
They paid that price so Americans can make their own mistakes, and not truly “honor” anything on the last Monday in May except their own welfare, if they are so inclined.
So thanks guys for your sacrifice. And for my quarter century in uniform…you’re welcome.