Memorial Day is tomorrow. All I’ve been thinking of is how nice it will be to have a day off, a short work week, spend some quality sister time with Izzybella. And I am looking forward to that. My sister and I haven’t had a lot of time together lately, and I’ve been missing her. So I am very much looking forward to going to a movie, lunch, and shopping with her. It will be fun. It’ll be relaxing. And after all my whinging lately about how much I need a vacation, time off from work that doesn’t relate to being sick or having surgery, I cannot deny how much I’m looking forward to this holiday.
But then I feel so petty. Because Memorial Day isn’t a shopping holiday, or a movie holiday, or even a barbecue holiday, although all those things happen on Memorial Day. No, Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the history of our nation, a time to remember those people who have laid everything on the line.
My father served in the United States Navy before I was born and while I was a small child. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Goldsborough, and worked as a hospital corpsman. He was all over the world, leaving behind a young wife and a young daughter, to serve his country.
My grandfather was in the Philippines when General Douglas MacArthur returned, as he so famously promised, serving his country in World War II.
When I was in Amarillo some years ago on a genealogy quest, I was very moved to see how many of my grand-uncles’ grave markers referred to their military service in World War II.
My family history goes further back than that, of course. I have a something-great-granduncle who died in the Civil War, on the first day of the Battle of Shiloh. He was fighting for the Union. I don’t know a whole lot yet about my other ancestors and relatives, but considering that my mother’s family comes from the south, it is entirely possible that some of my relatives faced each other on those battle fields.
I can go back a little further. I’m always amused to read how so-and-so’s great, great, great, great, great, however-many-greats, grandfather was a major or a general or a captain in the Revolutionary War. It could seem like everyone whose family history in the United States dates back that far had a relative who was an officer in this army that seemingly had all officers and no enlisted men. And they all fought on the side of the foundling nation.
I have a relative–not sure if he’s a direct ancestor or not–who not only fought on the side of the British, but when he realized that Britain was not going to win the war, he abandoned his wife and family and fled to Canada. I’m amused by that, even though of course I’m sorry he abandoned his family, because it’s a reminder to me that each of us has the opportunity to choose his/her own battles, and where each of us will stand in any given battle.
There are a lot of things wrong with this nation. I believe that the United States of America’s glory days are behind her. I loathe the politicians and their incessant arguments and lack of decisive activity when decisive activity is called for. I hate the lawyers (Shakespeare said it best: “The first thing we’ll do is kill all the lawyers.”) and the greed that fuels their labors.
But with everything that is wrong about this country, I’m glad to know that I can talk about it, and write about it, and express my opinions freely, without having to worry about being hauled off to prison or executed for my beliefs. I’m grateful to every man and woman who serves our country in the military, to defend and protect us. I’m grateful to everyone who doesn’t just see something wrong, think that there is nothing that s/he can do about it, and just walk on by, but who sees that something wrong and determines to do whatever s/he can, no matter how small, to try to set it right. I’m grateful to my ancestors and relatives who have served in the military. I’m grateful to my nephews who are now serving in the military. The sacrifices they make are real. Whether they pay the ultimate cost, even leaving behind their families to serve and see such horrors that I can hardly imagine, the sacrifices are real and they are great.
So tomorrow a U.S. flag will be proudly waving in front of my house. And yes, even though I’m going to be out having quality sister time with my beloved sister, I will be thinking of the men and women in the military, of those who gave their lives, of those who were willing to give their lives. I’ll be remembering them, and remembering all the blood, toil, tears, and sweat that went into creating this nation. I pray that some day this nation will again be worthy of their sacrifices.