There's something wrong about saying the words "Happy Memorial Day." What's happy about remembering those men and women who we've lost to wars, righteous or otherwise?
Memorial Day isn't a happy day for me anyway, but for personal reasons having nothing to do with war unless you count losing someone to random street violence on Memorial Day weekend an act of war, which I don't.
Given that, I thought it would be nice to just find a couple of essays that others had written and excerpt them here. Many thanks to Twitter friends Steve M and ThinkWingRadio for the pointers. Good essays are hard to find!
From Point of Decision, this observation:
Memorial Day is difficult. Mainstream culture overpowers us with advertisements for “Memorial Day sales” and we watch as families take the long weekend for vacations or barbecues. For us, we remember those who are not coming home. Those such as the Soldier who shared the bunk next to me at basic training, William Blount, who was no more than a kid when his vehicle was struck with an improvised explosive device in Mosul, Iraq, in 2010. I will always remember his upbeat and cheerful demeanor, his love of the Army, and the proud way he introduced his young fiancé to us when we graduated from training at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the time he died, she was his wife, and eight months pregnant.
War is terrible. It is not pretty, it is not glorious. It steals from us those we love and respect. But it is necessary. There are those who wish deadly harm to the citizens of our great nation, and they must be stopped, with the same deadly force. Which is why we have today. Should it be a day of mourning, with no barbecues, picnics, or vacations? Never. The generations of fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen stand testament that they, and we, the living, will always fight for these simple, yet remarkable things that make us uniquely American: the Freedom from Fear, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called it. However, we must ensure that from “these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” as President Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address. How will we honor those who died? By living out our lives, as they would have done, by loving our neighbors, by teaching our children to know and honor their memory, by doing good in the world, by seeking to always make the world a better place, by choosing the gentle word over the harsh gesture. We are all creatures in this great world, all members of the human community, no matter what nationality, race, or creed. My great uncle, a World War I veteran, would speak of the German who wounded him, and whom he subsequently killed in the battle, saying, “I killed a mother’s son.” Our fallen are our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
And this lovely story about a random photograph taken at the Fort Snelling graveyard of a bald eagle perched atop a gravestone. Click through to the story to see the photo, which really is amazing.
A quick recap: Amateur photographer Frank Glick was on his way to work when he drove through Fort Snelling National Cemetery early one morning. He spotted a bald eagle through the mist, perched on a gravestone, and snapped shots with his aging but ever-present camera.
Nice shot, he thought.
An acquaintance saw the photo and suggested that he see if the deceased soldier had any living relatives who might want it. Indeed, Maurice Ruch's widow was alive and well and delighted to receive a copy of the eagle watching over her beloved husband.
Glick's friend called me. Nice story, I thought.
Lots of others thought it was a nice story too. In the time since the article was published, the photo has gone viral, Frank Glick has been hospitalized, and the family of the soldier whose grave that was has received a full-size print.
'Happy' Memorial Day, C&L.