While Memorial Day isn’t about Veterans or people who are currently serving attacking those who are reminded of our service on Memorial and thank us for what we have done or are currently doing is also the purpose of Memorial Day and had I died in Afghanistan I know I wouldn’t have minded if someone remembered those who were still living instead of my sacrifice.
I grew up in a normal American family. A family outside of the military community. I didn’t even really understand the military and their complexities until September 11th happened my senior year of high school. Because I was so far removed from the military community I remember not understanding the words they said, the things they did or where their passion came from.
Truthfully, Memorial Day didn’t change for me when I entered the service.
It was a patriotic holiday full of red white and blue, sales, BBQs and the beginning of summer. It was easy to not pay attention to the real reason for the day. I was caught up in the commercialism of the day and the way I was raised taught me this was the way to celebrate Memorial Day.
Then in January 2013, an F-16 pilot was lost at sea. But this F-16 pilot wasn’t a person I didn’t know. It was someone I had spent a summer vacation in Norway with. A vacation he organized. I got to know a little about him, his passion. His dreams. I even met his wife who was pregnant with their first child. And I watched them walk down from our hike to the top of the fjord, hand in hand, picking berries along the way, so much love and hope in the future. Everything looked so perfect as this couple went from a couple to a family. Something my husband and I had been considering doing and a few months later when he died we were in the process of doing as I was pregnant with our first son.
That first Memorial Day after Luc’s death I finally understood what Memorial Day was all about because it was a day that I remember him.
And most of all that he is gone.
His family continued on without him. He wasn’t there to be the father he was looking forward to being. Knowing the story of his sacrifice and the loss I felt as an outsider completely changed my attitude toward Memorial Day.
Because now, I could clearly see the pain and emotion tied to that day.
But before then I didn’t understand. I couldn’t see the pain or maybe I choose not to. But if Memorial Day is a day that reminds Americans that our military serves our country and they try to honor it by thanking us for our service then. We should gracefully thank them and tell them about the person or people we know who makes Memorial Day so special to us.
We can honor their sacrifice by telling their story. We can make a toast at a BBQ to remember their life and sacrifice. And we can remember their sacrifice. We can realize how lucky we are to be living in a great country. A country they died protecting. A country they were proud to represent.
So here’s to you…Luc…will you never be forgotten, today and every day.