For Memorial Day

Memorial: preserving the memory of a person or thing; commemorative.

Memorial Day is not just the beginning of the summer holidays. It’s not just another three-day weekend when we get to sleep in or catch up on yard work. It’s not just a time to gather with friends and family for a cookout.

It’s about remembering. Remembering how much our freedom cost. Because freedom is never free.  It is costly, expensive. Its price is the lives of men and women who laid down their all.

My grandfather was a World War 1 veteran. My father and my father-in-law spent years overseas during World War 2. People I know were soldiers in Korea and Veitnam. Family members and friends served in other foreign lands. One young woman’s life was changed forever when she became a widow of a soldier. I know the stories of sacrifice, of being away from home and hearth and all that is familiar, of experiences that cannot be put into words.

I’ve seen the flag-covered casket rolled into the room where mourners were gathered to pay their last respects. How much did I consider that this life was an exchange for mine?

Soldiers and veterans march in parades, stand to salute the flag, and I admire them as tears often fill my eyes. They have sacrificed in ways I am not acquainted.

This morning I sit in my home with the freedom to choose how I will spend this day. I am not concerned that military forces are coming to take me captive. I can travel through multiple states to visit my family. I can attend the church of my choice. I can vote my conscience.  I can carry a weapon to defend myself. I can work and earn a wage.  I can go to college and pursue my calling and my dreams. I can shop where I choose. I can get to a doctor or a hospital and expect good treatment. I can write words on the world-wide web.

My freedom is precious. I value living in the United States of America. She has her problems, no doubt, but her flag still waves over the home of the brave and the free because of people who gave the ultimate for me. The living and the dead. They served their country. They served me.

And I will not forget.

God bless America. You have spread your grace on us.

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