P&Q’s Salute to Military Heroes and Heroines
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ~Joseph Campbell
It’s easy to forget how much Memorial Day actually cost. The first time I became really aware of the awesome sacrifices made by so many, I was a young teenager visiting the Luxembourg American Cemetery, where General George Patton and thousands of his troops are buried. It was a quiet, overcast day, and I was literally speechless looking out over the multitude of neat white headstones. Every one of those men had a family, hopes and dreams, a purpose in a life which was cut short. I was truly moved.
Almost 70 years after World War II, it’s easy to forget the sacrifices made by the military (and their families.) The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere aren’t seen as heroic or even honorable by many. Thousands of young men and women have died in recent years, and there is no end in sight. While I may not agree with the motives behind many of these wars, it doesn’t diminish in the least the respect and honor I accord the armed forces. The United States military is an all-volunteer body. Every one of these brave men and women is there on his or her own accord, not because of a draft or commission or social class. For some it may be a way to a better life (and, for the record, the way we treat veterans in America post-service is disgraceful). For others it may be a patriotic call or the continuation of a family tradition. For all, it is a matter of life and death. Every soldier, sailor, marine and airman knows that he or she may die in the line of duty. How many of us can say the same? How many of us bother to think about or thank our service members for our multitude of freedoms?
Memorial Day should be a time to remember not only those who have died in the service of their country, but honor those still serving as well. Even if you’re anti-war, it’s important to honor those who have given so much so the rest of us might be free. Consider one, if not all, of these awesome ways to give back:
* Offer to volunteer at your local VA hospital.
*If you have a veteran in your family, simply be there for him or her. If they are currently deployed, offer to help their family members left behind.
* Buy a flag or two and leave them at a veterans’ cemetery.
*Visit a museum of military history or battlefield in your area.
* Help collect oral histories from veterans for posterity (the World War II and Korean War veterans are fewer each year.)
* Send a care package to currently deployed troops (this site has a great list of suggestions and regulations.)
*Fly your flag proudly on Memorial Day and know its history.
I’m not writing all of this because I’m some rabid jingoist patriot. I’m writing it because I’m proud of, and frankly humbled by, the sacrifices made by our military. May we never forget them.
Semper Fi…and have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone!
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Any military vets in your family?