a day for remembering…
For some, it is a day of fresh grief because the pain of loss is still new. For others, it is a day of solemnity and a deep awareness of the cost of freedom.
The focus of Memorial Day is to honor our military fallen. Since the birth of our nation, over 600,000 have given their lives so that we can enjoy the luxuries of 21st Century America; cell phones, fast food, holidays, quiet evenings at home listening to cars driving by instead of hiding behind fortified walls listening to gunfire. We live in one of the best places on earth (political campaign slogans aside) because of the sacrifices of men and women most of us have never met. We don’t even know all their names.
But someone does. Every single man and woman who has laid down their lives for the sake of our freedom left someone behind. Someone who loved them. Someone who may still feel the weight of their loss every day. They say being a spouse or family is the toughest job in the military. What we celebrate today is part of the reason why.
My father is one who knew the reality of that difficult job description…his biological father, Fred Garcia, was killed in November 1943, in a plane crash at Love Field in Texas. Having just taken off, his plane was filled with fuel, so there was little left…we have the flag from his casket, and an old photo. That’s about it. But my dad still has memories…
Most of his memories of Fred have faded over the years. After all, his dad had been off fighting a war, and my dad was young. They didn’t have time to make many. The one stark memory my dad has is of officers in wool uniforms approaching the door, that fateful knock, and his mother’s tears. Not quite three (but obviously quite aware), my father wrapped his arms around his mother’s legs and said in his best grown up voice, “Don’t worry, Mama, I’ll take care of you.”
This is the picture we need to remember on Memorial Day…families without fathers, children growing up without mothers, someone missing from the latest family photo. We need to remember, in the words of Abraham Lincoln,
“What solemn pride must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom.”
The question now is, what will we do with the freedom that has been purchased at so great a cost? Will we head to the lake to BBQ dogs or steaks on the grill? Or will we remember the sacrifice made by so many?