Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Got this from a guy I know...

Memorial Day is their day isn't it? It is supposed to be the day a grateful nation pauses to quietly thank the more than one million men and women who have died in military service to their country since the Revolutionary War.

Or is it the day the beach resorts kick into high gear for the summer season the day the strand is covered by fish-belly white people basting themselves in coconut oil the day the off-season rates end and the weekend you can't get in a seaside seafood restaurant with anything less than a one hour wait. Or is it one of the biggest shopping center sales days of the year a day when hunting for a parking space is the prime sport for the holiday stay-at-homers?

Or is it the weekend when more people will kill themselves on the highways than any other weekend and Highway Patrol troopers work overtime picking up the pieces? I think the men and women who died for us would understand what we do with their day. I hope they would because if they wouldn't if they would have insisted that it be a somber respectful day of remembrance then we have blown it and dishonored their sacrifice.

I knew some of those who died and the guys I knew would have understood. They liked a sunny beach and a cold beer and a hot babe in a black bikini too. They would have enjoyed packing the kids the inflatable rafts the cooler sand the suntan lotion in the car and heading for the lake. They would have enjoyed staying at home and cutting the grass and getting together with some friends and cooking some steaks on the grill too. But they didn't get the chance. They blew up in the Marine Barracks in Beirut and died in the oily waters of the Persian Gulf. They caught theirs at the
airstrip in Grenada in the little war everyone laughed at. They bought the farm in the La Drang Valley and on Heartbreak Ridge Phu Tai and at Hue. They froze at the Chosin Reservoir and were shot at the Pusan Perimeter. They drowned in the surf at Omaha Beach or fell in the fetid jungles of Guadalcanal. They were at the Soame and at San Juan Hill and at Gettysburg and at Cerro Gordo and at Valley Forge.

They couldn't be here with us this weekend but I think they would understand that we don't spend the day in tears and heart-wrenching memorials. They wouldn't want that.

Grief is not why they died. They died so we could go fishing. They died so another father could hold his laughing little girl over the waves. They died so another father could toss a baseball to his son in their backyard while the charcoal is getting white. They died so another buddy could drink a beer on his day off. They died so a family could get in the station wagon and go shopping and maybe get some ice cream on the way home. They won't mind that we have chosen their day to have our first big outdoor party of the year.

But they wouldn't mind either if we took just a second and thought about them. Some will think of them formally of course. Wreaths will be laid in small sparsely attended ceremonies in military cemeteries and at monuments at state capitols and in small town's squares. Flags will fly over the graves patriotic words will be spoken and a few people there will probably feel a little anger that no more people showed up. They'll think no one else remembers.

But we do remember.

We remember Smitty and Chico and Davey and the guys who died. We remember the deal we made: If we buy it we said drink a beer for me. I'll do it for you guys. I'll drink that beer for you today and I'll sit on that beach for you and I'll check out the girls for you and just briefly I'll think of you. I won't let your memory spoil the trip but you'll be on that sunny beach with me today.

I will not mourn your deaths this Memorial Day my friends. Rather I'll celebrate the life you gave me.

This Bud's for you brother!

-Author Unknown-

and all I can say is... AMEN!

1 comment:

Mikey said...

So very true. Today, while I'm fishing on the lake, I'm going to say a prayer for the men and women who died just so I can have that special time with my daughter. I hope everyone else takes a moment to remember those folks who made it all possible for us. They gave their lives for us to be able to live free.