As a child growing up in a small town in Maine, Memorial Day was a special event. Our neighboring town held a parade with soldiers in full dress, floats with different church youth groups and fire trucks from the different towns. All the people gathered to watch the parade would walk the mile to our local cemetery where there were speeches, gun salutes, and flags and flowers on the graves of those who had died service their country. There was such a sense of pride in all of us gathered, as we together recognized that these men and women had died so that we might be free to live.
Today, so much has changed. Our streets hold soldiers suffering from PTSD, our cities are divided about why we are at war, and people get ready for weekend barbeques. Yet, 1000 men and women have died in Afghanistan. Young faces show up on the evening news with a cryptic ‘…age 24 died in some place in the Middle-East.’ War is real and it is personal. Parents speak about why their child enlisted and most of them speak of their child’s desire to ‘serve their country’. It is an ideal that has existed since there was a USA.
We may not have a parade for them down Main Street USA now but they parade across our minds and hearts as we remember that they did indeed die in another land so that we may live safely in our land.
It is Memorial Day! No matter how we feel or judge our current investment in war, let’s open our hearts to the men and women who have died and together let us offer a prayer of thanks for them and the life we now are able to live.