Here we are, on our way into Memorial Day weekend. I don't know how it is where you are, but here in Maryland it's bright, sunny, hot, humid, and exactly as Memorial Day Weekend should be (we had nearly a month of record setting rain, so I'm enjoying the change!)
My garden is flourishing, the roses are blooming, my children are loving the cheap pool I got at Target, and it's summertime at its best. I hope you're going into your holiday weekend feeling the same way.
I always see a few struggles people have with Memorial Day, regarding how to honor the fallen, and how others perceive the day (for example, many people thank Veterans for their service on Memorial Day, and that frustrates some people). So I'll go ahead and let you know how I approach the day.
If you've known me less than 5 minutes, you might not realize that I am a huge patriot. I think America is incredible, though not perfect, and is a place to be proud of. And yes, I feel that way even in the midst of this reality show of an election cycle.
We have enormous amounts of freedom here, the country itself is beautiful and unmatched geographically by any other land. Mountains, oceans, deserts, forests, some of the most fertile farming land in the world...we have it all. There are skeletons in our history, but there is no nation that doesn't have that. Because we are all run by humans, and as such, imperfect.
Since I believe in the inherent imperfections of humanity, and I also believe that we have inherent violent natures due to being the top predators on the planet (there are individual exceptions, yes, but I'm speaking of the entire human race), I feel that it is important to defend ourselves. I believe the best way to have peace is to carry a big stick, because no matter how much some of us want peace in our hearts, someone else is ready to take it away. Is that right? No. But I'm also pragmatic.
Since I believe all those things, it makes sense that I am a strong supporter of the military. I have worked in the midst of the defense and intelligence communities for a decade now, and as such, I am mostly surrounded by military men and women, and have the honor of calling many of them my friends (and in one very special case, my husband). This is an inherent part of me now. To have those who choose to live lives of peace, having no part of the military touch them, is a modern luxury due mostly to the fact that America has been so good at defending itself. Even for those who don't realize how many Vandals are at the gates, there is a very strong phalanx of men and women keeping them safe (whether physically, or, in this strange new age, digitally). Because trust me: the wolves ARE howling at the door. It's just a blessing to many that they don't realize how many blood-eyed zombies would take everything we have, if given a chance. Is that hyperbolic? Not as much as you might think.
Hand in hand with those who ARE defending, are those who HAVE. Behind the men and women who serve now, are the long shadows of those who have gone before, and who have paid the price. Now, I don't get offended when people thank veterans for their service on memorial day. I see why it happens, and I think any military appreciation is a good thing. But I do understand why some people get offended. Because by thanking those who stand at the wall, perhaps they feel we aren't recognizing those who have fallen before it, whose blood and bones went into the mortar of the safety we feel today.
The sacrifices of those who have given their lives in service to this country are easy to remember when we are watching something like Band of Brothers, or Saving Private Ryan. But I think it is harder to recognize, for some, that we are losing those around us, still. The controversial wars of the last 15 years haven't been without their toll on those who have been fighting them. I've lost friends, and so have most of the people I know or work with. The sacrifices of those in previous generations still resonate today, as the sacrifices of today will (hopefully) resonate with the generations of tomorrow. Particularly as, in the future, the stories of today lose their tinge of politics and spin, and become what they really are: the stories of those who signed up to confront any danger to this country, no matter what it was, and then went to confront it. We honor the faces that aren't with us at our parties this weekend. We honor those who gave all to make this country, we honor those who defended it, we honor those who are both the sung, and the unsung, heroes. To all who gave their family, their youth, their everything. That's why we CAN celebrate this weekend, and that's why we will. Till Valhalla, fallen warriors. You are not forgotten, and we carry you with us.