According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day was first observed to honor those who died during the American Civil War. Today the holiday commemorates all who have died serving our country while in the military. Although celebrated with parades and speeches instead of greeting cards, the significance of the day can be lost in the sales and long weekend that herald the practical – if unofficial – start of summer.
My experience with this ultimate sacrifice is distant. I know of World War II as history, although my uncle served. As with the Korean War, despite an older brother serving. I could have been drafted for Vietnam, however the luck of the lottery and the war’s waning allowed me to continue my college education. And I don’t know anyone who was killed or wounded.
Much of my career has supported the technology that enables our military; however, with one exception, my small contributions have been pretty academic, generally years away from deployment. It’s easy to become engrossed in the technical problems and solutions and never seriously consider the men and women in uniform who will rely upon the system to carry out their missions.
This year we mark five years in Iraq, in a campaign whose justification and scope now seem incredibly misguided. Did the removal of Saddam Hussein warrant the resulting turmoil in Iraq, the sacrifices of so many of our service women and men, and the tremendous drain on our economy? My point, though, is not to denigrate this war.
Rather, I want to acknowledge the incredible service that our military is making. To those who have died, to those who are wounded – particularly those whose lives are forever altered, to those who have served long and probably multiple tours away from family, to those who honor the commitment to serve country, and to those who do so despite misgivings about the current policy…
This Memorial Day is for you.
May I and the rest of the country understand your sacrifice and give you the respect and honor you deserve for your devoted service. Thank you, each one of you. May you return home safely to your families, and may the rest of your lives be blessed.