We should think about it all year long, but we don't. It will hardly register with most Americans this weekend, but it should. Memorial Day, thanks to those who have sacrificed no more than a second dessert in the congressional dinning room, has been turned into just another amorphous three day bender for most citizens. Kids, especially, have little knowledge or appreciation for the men and women who paid with their lives so that we might live in freedom. Social issues and politics trump military history in most of our schools, which is ironic on a myriad of levels.
Looking back I see how very lucky I have been. An early recollection of exactly what it meant to be afraid comes to me often on Memorial Day. I was seven or eight years-old when my father offered the only observation I can recall regarding his experience in World War II. He was pitching to me in the backyard of our Michigan home and had understandably grown tired of watching me bale out of the batters box one too many times. "Don't be afraid of the ball", he encouraged. "You don't know what it is to be afraid."
I guess I looked puzzled.
That day, for the first time, he began to speak of fear, real fear, that he had seen in the South Pacific. He told me of men at their battle stations under Kamikaze attack being so frightened they could not control their bladder or bowels. Grown men...I couldn't imagine. He spoke of the stomach churning and rapid heartbeat that came when a plane from his squadron did not return from a mission and the sick feeling of futility that nothing could be done.
They won't take our check. Money means nothing to them anymore. It's all about memory.
Edgar Papice once said, "The most powerful thing we have in our lives is choice." This Memorial Day take some time and chose to remember those gave up their tomorrows so that you might enjoy today.