Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I have always had a hard time understanding the concept of war. Those with the biggest armies, smartest maneuvers, best artillery, and the most left standing supposedly win.... Seems an archaic, almost bullying, way of settling things, and what about those who lose their lives? How many lives does it take to win a war? I guess the reality is that summits and meetings between leaders don't always work. Knowing that war is inevitable, I do bow my head and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our country and its' ideals.

My Uncle Bill lost his life in WWII. He died before I was born, but my dad talks about his brother Bill, quieting his voice when his name is mentioned. My dad also served in WWII. It is hard to imagine him jumping out of an airplane as a paratrooper, or being stuck in the trenches of Guam. He came home with shrapnel in his body and a Purple Heart. He is writing his memoirs and after all these years, he is writing more stories about that period of his life than he ever shared verbally. We've been proud of Dad for serving his country, and time makes the WWII vets' service even more humbling.

My brother's number wasn't pulled during the draft to Vietnam in 1969/1970, but I remember one of his buddies was drafted. My brother asked me to bake him a farewell cake and he helped me put green food coloring into the frosting because he wanted it to be camouflage colored. It was all a big joke to his buddies who came over that night, listening to Led Zeppelin and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but it was a gallows laugh, and there was tension around the table. (His buddy made it back, safe and sound.)

It's sobering to think of the tremendous bravery these men and women face. I'll never understand war, but I have a heartfelt appreciation of what it must be like to lay your life on the line for your ideals. And when you think of that, you realize that Memorial Day is one of the most underrated holidays we have.

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