I remember the Gulf War, and of course, I am aware of the War on Terror. I was alive during the Vietnam Conflict (really, conflict? My kids have more than a conflict when arguing over who is going to clean their bathroom). Anyway, I don't have memories of the Vietnam atrocities until it was over and I was a teenager--I learned about it through the eyes of my High School English teacher and through the media.
It's a difficult thing for me, as for most of us, to really understand what we are to remember on Memorial Day. I don't want my focus to stay in the backyard, around the barbecue. I don't want to simply say, "Yay, no school today!" And, so I search for it, for the meaning behind this free day I've been given. The day itself was established, quite informally, after the civil war. It was originally called "Decoration Day", when a group of freedmen, once slaves, gathered at the graveyard of Union soldiers who had died in the war between the North and the South. They celebrated the fallen soldiers and decorated the site with signs that said, "Martyrs of the Race Course".
Celebration for sacrifice. Decorations for their Thankfulness.
At the same time that I read that it was a party, I want to be sensitive to those who have people they adore whose lives have been lost. I remember that there are Mothers, some the same age as myself, who won't be camping with their child this weekend. I remember there are fathers who have not stopped being proud of their child. I remember that there are women, once wives, who are now widows.
It's nothing new that I've said, and that is okay. I just took a few minutes, said a prayer, and remembered. Remembered what someone else had to lose.
Continuing to gather my One Thousand Gifts,
67:: Thankful that my dad was here to raise me. His time with the Navy was during the Korean War, and it never touched our family.
68:: Thankful for my brother, who was an Air Force man. I will get to see to him today. He will hug me and tell me he loves me.
69:: Thankful that my brother, who was once in the Navy, will spend the day with his wife. When he went to serve he was still so young.
70:: Thankful that the few people I know who have children who are overseas, have the peace knowing that, at least for now, their son's are safe.
71:: And finally this, thankful that I can write whatever I want, read whenever I am inclined and do it all without fear.
Happy Memorial Day, decorate it well.