Memorial Day weekend is, on the surface, about the parades, the barbecues, and advent of the summer. For East Enders, it is more — this is the beginning of “the season” where businesses, after a dormant offseason, enter their moneymaking season and the local economy churns hard.
Monday is a federal holiday set aside for the purpose of remembering those who gave their lives in the armed forces. Think about it — their sacrifice was unconditional. It cuts across party lines, gender, color, creed, and ethnic background, religious or political persuasion. Asked to serve their country, they did so, unflinchingly.
These were not nameless “casualties.” These were almost all young people, fresh out of high school, from small towns like ours and from the big cities. They had parents, left behind to grieve for eternity. Some had infants they barely had a chance to meet. They leave widows and widowers, abandoned when their lives together were just beginning.
The very concept of courage is hard to fathom. Where does a soldier find the inner strength to face death? In his heart, in his soul? Is it something inbred, planted by generations past that allow him (or her) to rise up against an enemy bent on destroying him? Many of us could not, and would not, put ourselves in harm’s way. Make no mistake about it, though — the brave possess a quality we will never comprehend.
These are the kinds of horror stories that play out every day, and yet war continues, all over the globe, as it has for hundreds of years.
Someday our country, and all the countries on earth, will stop asking their young citizens to do their evil bidding.
Someday intelligent leaders will find solutions with words, not weapons.
Someday, man really will evolve from the Neanderthal state. How odd that despite all these technical and medical breakthroughs, we’re still nothing more than animals who cannibalize our young.
Enjoy Memorial Day weekend, but don’t say, “Have a happy Memorial Day.” Instead, on this somber occasion, say a prayer for those who made freedom possible, who, without fanfare, laid their lives on the line for us.