I never really had any special feelings about Memorial Day for many years. Later on in life with my kids it became a weekend for camping and admiring all the flags. After my divorce I began an outreach program for veterans in conjunction with a local American Legion. Fourteen years later I have a totally different perspective. If it is a weekend of beers with your friends it would be in order to forget. If it is a time for camping it is a time to lay there trying to imagine what those who went to war might have experienced. If it is a weekend for hunting it is a time to try and picture having the enemy out there hunting for you. I am not here to put a downer on the celebrations of Memorial Day. Those who have gone on before us did so in order that we might have those families and friends gathering freely together. I just want us to remember the deeper meaning of Memorial Day.
I come from a long line of military people. It is my honor to finally have all the paperwork together to be submitted for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. My ancestors have fought in every conflict since the Revolution. My father was World War II and my brother was Vietnam. To say that I am proud of my ancestors and family is a major understatement. Periodically I come across those who hold the view that all war is evil and that those who are in them are wrong. I normally just shake my head at their clueless position but my ancestors also fought so that those people could express their opinions regardless as to how naïve it might be. But, try to imagine a world in which no one ever went to war; not a world without evil people, just those who never were willing to go to war. Looking at Great Britain today it is hard to imagine the atrocities permitted under King George within the colonies. What if World War I was never opposed? What would a world in which Hitler was not stopped or one in which Tojo Yamamoto was allowed to invade the West coast of the United States. Or what if there were no soldiers available to have kept leaders of the USSR in check from the days of Stalin through Khrushchev. Khrushchev’s goal was to bury the United States. Iran’s goal is to turn the US and Israel into piles of ash. It is almost impossible to image a world where evil would be permitted to run unhindered but because our soldiers were willing to stand the gap.
Our returning veterans from Vietnam were met with people throwing rotten fruit at them, spitting at them, and even throwing balloons filled with urine at them. These actions must never be forgotten because they must never be repeated. I challenge you this weekend whenever you see a veteran you thank them. I challenge you to go out of your way to say something nice to those who gave you the opportunity to hold your opinions regardless whether they support the military. Keep in mind that it is the military that makes it possible for you to be free to oppose the military.