I went downtown this morning to watch the Memorial Day parade. I thought it appropriate, even necessary, to commemorate the service of so many men and women who have worn the uniform and taken the oath to defend the country and the U.S. Constitution. Tears welled in my eyes several times, especially seeing parade watchers who — no doubt — have proudly served their country and don’t miss an opportunity to show it.
While I feel I have worked hard to earn what I have, I also recognize that I live a very privileged life, afforded many opportunities so easily taken for granted. Were it not for the men and women who defend my liberty, whether in theory or practice, I might not be so fortunate.
Decades ago, my uncle served in the Pacific during World War II. My mother supported the war, moving from Reno to work in the shipyards in Oakland.
This week, we learned that the 1,000th soldier was killed in Afghanistan. The toll since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is some 4,400. Almost 37,500 have been injured in both theaters, which may be a low number considering under-reported traumas such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Many service men and women have done multiple tours through Iraq and Afghanistan, in some cases both parents leaving children with relatives.
Sacrifice. Every one who enlists and takes the oath makes a personal sacrifice in order to defend the ideals of liberty and freedom. Some make the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives. I am grateful for and thank you for your service and devotion.
May we, the citizens of these United States, prove worthy of your sacrifice.
No better than this: Blue sky, green leaves, warm sun, chorus of birds. Stealing a few moments just to be.
I recall a minister who preached on our propensity to be doing all the time. She noted our self worth is defined by how much we accomplish, reflected by too many e-mails, too many business trips, too many meetings to attend and calls to make and take. We spend ourselves, rushing from project to project, commitment to commitment, just in time.
With this frenetic lifestyle, we too often sacrifice the time and lose the opportunity to listen deeply to another person’s story, even to discern our own story. And at the end of the trail, will the busy-ness and long list of activities and accomplishments be worth the loss of relationship, the loss of balance?
Hard to say. The motivation to make a positive difference in the world is surely good. And there’s so much to do.
If we can’t get off the merry-go-round — if we’re not sure we even want to — let’s at least steal a few moments now and then just to be.
Capping a long week,
I settle into a chair on the deck
and close my eyes.
The warmth of the afternoon sun
plays tag with a dry, cool breeze
across my face.
The birch rustle gently,
occasionally overpowered by
the wind mimicking the surf,
pushing through the pine branches.
How many different bird calls?
One playful, one incessant, one urgent.
A car going through the neighborhood,
now a plane far overhead.
My eyes open to a flood of green, spring green,
the white blooms of a dogwood,
and the golden hue of a sinking sun,
warm upon my face.
dog in my lap.
Let these moments last forever.
Life need be no more.