Memorial Day originated as a day to remember those who died on the field of battle, defending their country without thought for themselves. They gave the ultimate sacrifice by serving with dignity and honor and placing the safety of others before their own – a selfless act which has somehow been diminished over time.
My husband served in the Air National Guard at the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He entered this branch of service, served six months of active duty and summer camp for six years following. He does not consider himself a veteran, because he didn’t go the regular route and serve all his time at once. I appreciate his humility, but in my eyes he is still a hero. During his time of active duty, his unit was called along with others to get to their bases immediately and be prepared to take off in the darkness of night, to fight the communists in Cuba. They were told to run stop lights getting there. The urgency in the order sent chills up his spine, but he knew he was prepared. They waited – and waited – and waited. At last they were sent home when an agreement was made between the countries involved.
My husband never faced the enemy in war. He never had to watch his friends as they were shot and killed or lost limbs. He never suffered PTSD. The stories of his time in the Air Force are not filled with anxiety, hatred, anger or fear like so many of our returning soldiers who faced combat. Still he was willing to serve his country and die in the process, if need be.
We have friends and family who have returned from Korea, Viet Nam, the Middle East – scarred by their experiences. There is no way to explain the pangs of hell a soldier must face each time they enter the combat arena. They’re exposed to all kinds of emotions and danger which we can’t begin to comprehend. When they return home, they suffer from nightmares, flash backs and memories of horrible acts against humanity. Then there are those who are MIA or POW who are never heard of again. We remember their service, but they soon become a faded memory. Still cemeteries are lined with white headstones atop graves holding those who didn’t return. The fallen soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, become distanced memories over time. Once a year, we show them homage on Memorial Day.
Then I’m reminded of my Savior, Jesus. The selfless soldier who did battle against the evils of this world and won. His victory over sin and death is our great heritage. He took our place on the battlefield against the devil. When we make the choice to help another person, we are in a small way imitating Him. Today and every day, let’s be grateful to those who are willing to give their lives for others.