Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day. They are, in a sense, the three-legged stool that anchors our union, much in the same way the three branches of government anchor its day-to-day operation. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
But there’s a responsibility that falls to the citizens, not only to elect leaders who will govern well and keep our best interests at heart, but to respect, honor and strengthen our military, to remember those who have given their lives, to thank and care for those who previously served, and to acknowledge those who currently serve in our volunteer forces
If you ask me, it’s a small price to pay: Three days each year that require we take a moment to think about freedom, to exercise responsibility, to display the American flag with pride, to stop what we are doing, to remember, to celebrate our freedom. And, no matter what some may believe, we are free by almost any standard one chooses to apply. We are free, still and yet, because of those died in our military forces, because of those who served and because of those who still serve.
There is an internet piece currently circulating that sets my teeth on edge. It purports to prove what a “warring people” we are – that in our 240 years of existence, we have been “at war” for 222 of them. It is designed, I think, to shock and disappoint. I was shocked and disappointed to read it.
But then I realized that it is exactly that kind of piece, as misleading as it is, that makes us strong. I know as well as others what faults this nation has and what challenges it faces. But, I am not willing to give up on us. Not yet. Not ever!
So, tomorrow, on Memorial Day, I will look up at the flag that flies in my front yard and say a silent and heartfelt prayer for those who did not return from the battlefields. War is, and has been a reality in our history. And, even though we would all like to live in peace, there are worse things than war. And our military men and women fight those battles well, and they fight them for us all.
My household paused in the same way on Armed Forces Day, May 21. I come from a long line of soldiers, sailors and airmen. I even claim family who fought on separate sides in our own Civil war, and I laud their choices to do their duty as they perceived it at the time.
By November 11, when it is once again time to honor the veterans who wore their uniforms in active duty service, this country’s citizens will already have elected a new leader for the next four years. At the moment, that choice is the cause of much debate and bitter contention. I hope that our choice three days earlier will make our veterans proud. It is this process that they suited up to defend both at home and abroad.
Now, that is something to think about.
That is, after all is said and done, what is required of us, not a great deal for this nation to demand of me and of all its citizens. It is the least we can do for the privileges we have.
It is my hope that all citizens of this United States will stand together and work for good. I realize that, in 2016, many different opinions hold sway, and that the task seems more difficult than it ever has before, at least in my lifetime. But it is still my hope.
And, finally, taking a little time for barbecue on this extended holiday weekend is not a bad idea either!