The Memorial Day holiday represents both the unofficial kick off to summer and a day to remember its true meaning, to honor our men and women in the military who have died for their country in the line of duty.
Memorial Day for many of us means being outside making s’mores, ice cold beer in the fridge and lots of food being overcooked on the grill. It means getting out in the boat and fishing, maybe a family reunion, or going to a hometown parade to see the mayor hanging on for dear life as he or she teeters on that homemade float. In any case, typically family and friends are involved and a day full of festivities has been planned.
Since we can’t do that this year, it is an opportunity for us to spend a little more time reflecting on the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military.
It goes without saying that this will be a very unusual Memorial Day indeed.
“You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor the protected shall never know.”
It would seem those words are truer than true. We owe great gratitude and are indebted to the men and women that had the courage to put on a uniform and were willing to go to war. And we need to say thank you.
Many of us may be thinking that this Memorial Day just won’t be the same because of social distancing and isolation. I am one of them but I then read an interesting article that talked about the isolation that many veterans experienced when the war was over. Often keeping to themselves, not sharing their experiences and going on as if nothing was wrong. Many of us either know first-hand or have heard people talk about a relative that never spoke about their experience while at war. Not. One. Single. Word.
This type of isolation seems so profoundly lonely. It provided me some perspective. While we are all currently experiencing a variety of circumstances during this pandemic, we are confronting isolation of a different kind. For instance, I am isolated but in the comfort of my own home feeling warm, well-feed and safe. And I am connected to my family and friends, feeling comfortable sharing my thoughts and challenges, in new creative ways. I cannot fathom the isolation many veterans have endured, feeling as if they were unable to connect with others and to openly discuss what they’ve been through. Experiences too powerful to share and of such magnitude they were forever changed. Experiences that the average citizen couldn’t truly comprehend. Perspective indeed.
So on this Memorial Day, let’s say thank you to all the veterans we have lost with a renewed sense of deeper understanding. Let’s remember them and their many sacrifices, not just today but all year long. And for all of our veterans, let’s lend them a helping hand. Ask them if they want to talk. And listen if they do.
Remember, we really will never truly understand what our veterans went through. And while we may be missing the things we usually do on Memorial Day, maybe that’s not such a bad thing if it means finding a renewed sense of what Memorial Day is truly about.
To all our veterans, we honor you and your service and we are grateful beyond measure.