These are different times. It is not “business as usual” so Memorial Day this year will be different also. There won’t be any memorial ceremonies at the cemetery or the Veterans club. There won’t be any parades. There won’t be many big picnics.
But that doesn’t mean we should not remember the veterans that have given their lives for us, our country, and freedom.
Members of the military spend countless hours training for their specialties. We spend many, many hours training for combat. The training is often very uncomfortable.
We spend days in the rain, the cold, the wind, the snow, the hot, and the humid weather. We spend sleepless nights on guard duty, on alert, in tents (aka. two shelter halves), and in fighting holes. We spend days and days without a shower, without a hot meal, sometimes without food or water at all. We do this in the woods, the swamps, and the desert. We spend months away from our families and loved ones.
And then we go to combat.
There is just no way to explain what a Veteran goes through in combat. The stress, the fear, the anxiety, the pain; all added to the discomfort described above. And that is all day, every day.
We know that at any time we could be injured, wounded, or die.
Yes, we are trained for it. That is exactly why we train. But one cannot ever be fully prepared for the first combat action. It is a stressful, anxious, fearful, painful time with huge adrenaline dumps which result in total energy depletion, exhaustion, and emotional wreckage.
The simple fact is that veterans die in combat. Remembering this is the reason for Memorial Day. Remembering all those veterans who have “made the ultimate sacrifice” is what Memorial Day is all about.
The media gives us some opportunities to remember. They show movies, television shows, and news that accurately or not so accurately represent what it is like in combat. But it does help us think about our veterans.
I personally will spend some time remembering. I will remember my friends who did not come home. I will think about all the other veterans who did not come home from all the wars and conflicts and actions they engaged in. I will cry some. I will remember those still out there, still training, still serving. I will pray for them.
What will you do this Memorial Day?
Please Remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies, and the flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.
Jim Daly, a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a member of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 224 and its Veterans Service Officer. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.