Monday, May 28, 2012

For The Heroes, On Memorial Day

“When you see men choke down their fear and dive in after an unexploded bomb so that our planes can land safely, a lump comes in your throat and you know why America wins wars.” –Navy Commander Joseph Blundon, 1942. 

            Most of us don’t truly have an understanding of Memorial Day.  As time separates our country from those 20th century wars that were responsible for the deaths of so many, it gets easier to forget.  Each year, Memorial Day becomes more and more about BBQ, swimming pools, and the unofficial start of summer.  It becomes less and less about remembering and thanking God for our soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  Perhaps for those with sons, husbands, daughters, and wives in harm’s way overseas fighting the war against terrorism, Memorial Day hits home again.  But for most of us, myself included, this day has become a good excuse for a long weekend and good food.  At least until recently.  Thankfully, my changed attitude is not because a family member or friend has gone off to war. 

            The quote at the beginning of this post is taken from a book by Winston Groom titled 1942.  This book made its way to my bookshelf in the first place because it belonged to my grandfather, a hero from WW2, who passed away last year.  On a whim, I picked up 1942 several weeks ago and began reading.  At times both horrific and heartening, 1942 offers more meaning to this day that we call Memorial Day than everything else I have learned in my life about our country’s history.  To discover what misery hundreds of thousands of 18-20 year olds suffered in the Pacific theater of WW2, so that we could experience the joy of life in the United States, is…sobering, to say the least. 

What a blessing for the rest of us to experience hot showers, Starbucks, traffic jams, life’s successes, and life’s failures.  For those who never made it back from Guadalcanal, Normandy, Baghdad, Afghanistan, or the countless other lands stained with American blood, we are thankful for these simple things as well as the significant freedoms we enjoy.  America wins wars because of the bravery and honor of those heroes, and we will never forget them, and the heavy price they paid.

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