Since the end of World War II, the United States has been involved 14 armed conflicts. We have men and women aboard ships, aircraft and on the ground in very hazardous places yet today and I wonder what Memorial Day means to everyone else. We are all fortunate to be living in such a nice and patriotic part of the country where individualism and ruggedness are prized.
The decision to join or not to join the military is usually made at as a young adult. Some signed up in a firestorm of patriotism, patiently waited their Selective Service number to come up or simply to leave the "farm." Others may have joined for GI Bill benefits, learn a trade or follow in their forefathers footsteps to serve this Great Nation. However, when a shadow falls upon our country and service members find themselves in harm's way the reason one joined is sifted out and is no longer relevant. What is relevant is the accomplishment of our mission, success and the survival of those on our left and right.
Political opinions, past problems and future challenges are no longer in ones mind. Time slows and the most powerful force of motivation now comes from not letting your fellow brothers and sisters down, coming through this action a winner. When every engagement has more on the line than a Super Bowl, you think, I do my part, you do your part and we all go home to toast our victory. That's what we like to think. Memorial Day belongs to those who did what our country asked them to do but didn't make it home.
Some folks cook out, go to the cemetery to honor those killed in action. We honor them in Rapid River parade and maybe we get the day off work. Though it's busy it is not our day. This day is provided for us by those who gave all so we may enjoy our way of life in our little corner of the world. Our way of life that's worth fighting for and if necessary, worth dying for.
Freedom isn't free and it isn't for us to enjoy without a care. What are we to do in order to repay our gratitude of those fallen? How can we repay the ultimate sacrifice of one's life for us? There could never be enough we could do. We who survive and enjoy the fruits of freedom must take every day as if it was our last and make the most of it. We must vote. We must ask more from those we elect to represent us. We must contribute to our society not detract from it. We must give more than we take, be a better parent, brother/sister, spouse and friend. We must be better than we were yesterday and most of all we must celebrate the day given to us at such a high cost and keep our way of life worth fighting for. So we may enjoy a peace at home that is worth fighting for over there. We don't have to serve in the military but we must serve our Nation to remain great. We must all be citizens who are worthy of all the opportunity we have. We remember on this day more than any other, those who never got that last hug or handshake, and remain forever young.
Through the sweat soaked uniform in the heat of the day, the smoke from the barrel and sweat burning your eyes, the adrenaline racing through your veins, or the loneliness of the sea or the long hours in the cockpit. Another incoming round and all the hell that goes along with it, where ever you were the only peace comes from thought of coming back here, to the people and place we love. To those that didn't come back, we remember, honor and salute you and we'll see you on the other side.