Today is the day that we set aside to commemorate those men and women who have given their all in the service of their country. Unfortunately, it has turned into more of a cook out/beginning of summer kind of holiday. We as a people have a very short memory and are more interested in immediate gratification and the good life. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I feel just a little disappointment that Memorial Day is not commemorated as fully as it was intended.
As I get older, I seem to think more of the cost of things and as I watched the various news programs today with the photo ops of the many graves with American flags on them, the buglers playing "Taps" the photos of the young men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was reminded that the cost of freedom is very, very high. My good wife was watching with me and commented when she saw the photos of the recent war dead on the TV, "They all look like babies" I told her that all the pictures of the men that I had seen from all of our previous wars did too. Generations of young men who will never grow old, who will always be young at least in the memories of their loved ones and the men they served with.
I wish that I could put into words how much of a debt that I personally feel I owe those who have fallen in the service of our country, but words fail me. Plus how do you thank those who are gone? Or would they even want our thanks for doing what they must have felt was their duty? I know that what I do is very limited, but I do try to thank them in what I do as a living historian by doing the very best impression that I can. I also go out of my way to personally thank every vet that I meet. That way I can at least try to let them know that their efforts were appreciated and cherished. I have had the honor of meeting men who stormed islands in the Pacific and fought the Japanese, flew as crew members of bombers over Germany, fought up the "boot" of Italy and landed on the Normandy beaches, as well as men who served on ships on every sea and ocean. These fellows were the indeed the "greatest generation" (To include my father who served as a SEEBEE in the navy, building airstrips on several pacific islands to base B-29 bombers out of) I have also met vets that fought in Korea, Vietnam, and other less well known places. All these men were modest and reticent about their service, but seemed to appreciate it when I thanked them. I felt like that it was the least I could do for these "bravest of the brave" but still it doesn't seem like it is enough.