The fallen. Isn't it odd that we use that term? Military personnel who have died doing a job they volunteered (now they are all volunteers, wasn't always the case) to perform. The basic training lead them to schooling for their specialty and then to active duty somewhere doing whatever they have been trained to do to the best of their ability and giving everything they have in service to their country. Their country, by the way, is you and me. The freedoms they serve to preserve are our freedoms as well as their own. The limits to their dedication are nonexistent. They give all. They stood for freedom. Now they are 'the fallen'. The 'fallen' gave all.
Memorial Day, is especially meant to honor, remember and salute the military men and women who died in service to the United States of America. Over the years, however, we have expanded it's meaning to cover all deceased military personnel. I believe this is as it should be. Whether a veteran died while in service or many years following, every veteran gave this country all or a large piece of the only life she/he had. At some point each became property of the U.S. Government and belonged to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or the National Guard body and soul. An agreement to be all, do all and if necessary, give all was entered into and fulfilled. Each deserves to be honored today and everyday that we walk in freedom on the lands of America.
The families of the dead are forever changed. Changed by the dedication of their loved one; changed by the loss of their loved one and changed by the support or lack of from their fellow Americans.
Imagine sending your fresh-out-of-high-school child off to the service. Imagine attending their graduation ceremony with such pride and love as to be indescribable. Imagine writing back and forth about your everyday life and the everyday life of the enlistee. No comparison. The everyday life of the enlistee is not a day which belongs to them, it is a day in which they belong to their unit, their assignment, their duty. All day, everyday this is their life. They are proud, families are proud.
Then imagine getting that visit, or call. Imagine, if you possibly can, that your child has given up her/his life for his/her country. An explosion, a bullet, an accident, something has taken your child. The U.S. Government has notified you and now you have to deal with your loss. I cannot imagine. I have a son who served proudly in Iran. His ship, the USS Independence returned without incident. Thank you, God. I cannot imagine.
Imagine loving a Veteran who returns to his life after his service is complete. Living the remaining years in marriage with children and your Vet. Through the years you see and feel the effects of the time served. You see the nightmares or deal with medical issues that stemmed from time served. You love through it all. When you lose your spouse you know it is from something that occurred many years prior, but you carry on and remember. Imagine you also have to pay the price. I cannot imagine.
My own father was an Army Veteran and maybe his early death at age 56 was somehow related, maybe not, but it doesn't matter, he is gone and my mother was widowed at an early age. She is one of so many widows of veterans who served proudly and left this earth far too soon. I cannot imagine.
Today, though I continue to honor and respect the proud men and women who have served and are now receiving and enjoying their rewards in the hereafter, I also with all of my heart and all of my soul honor, respect and admire the families they left behind.
Thank you Veterans all for your service and your dedication. Thank you mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for your strength and your contribution to the freedom of these United States.
The price of freedom is too high for some. The price of freedom is more than anyone should ever have to pay, but as long as it is necessary, may we each remember to pay proper respect.
As we play and do yard work and celebrate another 3 day week-end, please take a moment of silence or a trip to the cemetery or say a prayer for those who served and gave their lives for your free life.
God rest the souls of all who served. Amen