I humbly beg your pardon if I don’t open my greeting for such a holy day as this with wishing you a ‘Happy’ Memorial Day.
Even those with the greatest gratitude for returning home after serving their nation don’t hold much about days like this as happy.
For too many people this is a day to BBQ, and get an amazing discount on a mattress, new car, or big screen TV. It is the beginning of summer, and a great reason to enjoy a long weekend.
And those who served along side those who fell – they look at us and just wish we would honor their brothers & sisters who will never have another cookout, never buy another car, never see another game on a new TV. They will never have a long weekend, never hear their children laugh in the summer. They will never collapse with their lover on a new mattress.
They will never see another amazing discount.
In 1967 the United States declared by Federal Law that ‘Decoration Day’ was now officially Memorial Day.
And then they sent my father to war.
My father taught me that I can love my country even when I don’t love my government. I can love my flag even when its principles are being abused by villains. And I can love my soldiers regardless of what I feel about the battles they have been sent to serve in.
I had the honor of being raised by an honorable veteran, and I share a classroom with a few great ones as well.
My father asked me once when I was a teenager, that anytime I find myself in Washington D.C. – please be sure to spend some time at The Wall. I must have been in my very early 20’s when I finally found myself there for a day. My friend Steve and I walked up to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the 246 feet 9 inches long, 10 foot high Wall just looked back at me with the eyes of some 58,191 men. Their names inspired a thought I had never had in my life.
Somewhere on this wall, among these 58,191 names – are men my father knew.
Men he lived with, laughed with, drank with, ate with, trained with. Men he counted on. Men he trusted, men who trusted him.
Men he saw alive one day, and gone the next.
It messes me up every single time I talk about it.
As I have gotten older I have only known more vets. And so my compassion for their brothers and sisters who’ve died in service to our nation has only grown.
That day in DC my friend and I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. My particular intention was for those men on that Wall that never saw another sunset or traffic jam.
I implore you all to find time to honor our fallen, in whatever manner is most sacred to you.
“When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together.”
May they come together today.