Today (the last Monday in May) is the day the Nation memorializes those of us who have died in active military service. Although we automatically think about those who died in combat, we also need to remember those who died preparing for combat that never came (the Cold War, etc.). Their basic service was no less than the guys who died while on the battlefield (you generally don’t pick and choose when or where you are sent), and their commitment had already been shown by voluntarily enlisting.

This was brought home to me while my unit prepared for it’s first Iraq deployment in 2005. While in training there was a vehicle accident, and one of our Company’s newest soldiers (out of Basic Training for a month and a half, and 18 years old) was ejected from a vehicle and the humvee rolled over him. This event hit my Squad especially hard, as that guy’s best friend (since they were 5 years old and also the guy who went through Basic with him) was the newest member of my Squad.

As a surrogate parent (as a Squad Leader, that’s what you are to soldiers that are that young), what do you say to a guy who has never experienced needless loss? You don’t say anything, you listen (and that’s also what you do with an older Vet who is reliving his loss). The only thing I did that night was try to get him to talk about the good memories he had of his friend, help him to realize that those memories are forever, and give him a shoulder to cry on.

On Memorial Day, I remember the Brothers I have lost. I remember why they were my Brothers, and I remember that regardless of how we try and rationalize why we should not have lost them at the moment that we did, God has a plan in everything that happens. Remember our Honored Dead who died in the service of our great Nation. It wasn’t what it once was, but it is still one of the freest and greatest places on earth, and it is our responsibility to keep it that way and continue to make it better.

Quit making excuses about how the last generations allowed our nation to get this screwed up, and just figure out how you can make it better. It starts with your family, neighborhood and community. Honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice by being the proper example to those who feel entitled to what others have (that is a learned mindset, and volunteering for the military is the exact opposite). You can talk all you want, but unless they have a visible example to emulate, the only thing they can “see” is talk (that’s what politician’s do). Enjoy your time today with family and friends, and remember those who gave us this freedom and opportunity.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.

 

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