Amanda posted this on Facebook leading into this weekend and I really appreciated it. We Americans so often forget that having this lovely three day weekend came at a cost. Not only that, we often don’t know the difference between these two observed days.
It’s Memorial Day today, and while I have plans packing for my upcoming trip (and then promptly unpacking because it’s just too early to actually pack) and getting some yard work done, some house cleaning, some relaxing, cookie baking, and time with friends tonight, I am taking a pause here to think about other people. People I do not know.
Just last night I was struck with a weird thought that I don’t usually have – what will it be like when I die? Will I be all alone? How long will Harlow have been gone by then? And my parents? Will it be expected? Peaceful? Will I feel that I’d lived my life the best I could? Will I be forgotten?
If we live a relatively normal life, we may be aware that the end could come at any time, but in general, we assume we’ll live to be old and don’t obsess about it on the day-to-day. Hopefully anyway.
Then there are others; brave people stepping up and serving with full knowledge that they may meet a fate sooner than “normal”. I can’t imagine having the guts to do that. And for all the families who have to send off their loved ones? Aside from actually losing them, it must be the worst feeling. Not to mention that the struggle continues for most when they return since we don’t seem to have the best services for struggling vets or the national mindset that mental health is a valid concern and worthy of acknowledgment (though it is improving).
In 2016, we took a family trip to DC to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary and it was a great time. We visited the Vietnam War Memorial, among other places, and it was the first time my parents had been. It was, understandably, emotional for them. After the visit, I recorded them. You can hear them talk about their experiences during Dad’s time in the Navy HERE. And you can hear them talk about The Vietnam War HERE. I feel lucky that they had the experiences they did; challenging but not catastrophic like some.