Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Tribute

Today is Memorial Day in the US - a national holiday where we Americans are supposed to take time to remember and reflect on the thousands who gave their lives in the name of our country and the freedoms it represents.

For most of my life - it was a really abstract concept - and a great excuse to get a day off from school or work. Oh sure, I'd observe a moment of silence and reflect upon it, but then it would completely slip from my conscience thoughts and that would be that.

Then there was Desert Storm. I was living in Bakersfield, CA at the time, and when the soldiers came home - the town basically shut down and everyone went to the downtown area and lined the streets. There were yellow ribbons, everyone waved flags, held up homemade banners and really went all out to welcome back the troops.

I was in the front row, and I could see just how thankful and overwhelmed these kids (for the most part) were. They went out to do a job in a foreign country - and while not everyone agreed on the politics involved - they sure agreed that welcoming people who put their lives on the line was a good thing. And it was!

Then there was 9/11. I watched on TV as the second plane hit the second tower - LIVE with a lot of America. I stayed glued to the TV as the devastation continued through out the day. When I found out the planes were hijacked - I got angry. I think we all did.

When we sent people into Iraq to kick ass and take names - it seemed like the logical thing to do. As I watched CNN while the first bombs were dropped - I was feeling a bit smug and horrified at the same time. It's one thing to watch it on TV, and a whole 'nother thing to actually think about and understand what the actual, live, human people were doing in going over there.

Some time later I saw the HBO series "Band of Brothers" and also, probably the most eye-opening and shocking - "Saving Private Ryan". These films really affected me. The true horror of war - and the true sense of duty (even though I realize they were just movies) - really became apparent to me.

The fact that these are real people with real lives, real families. They were babies, toddlers, teenagers. They went to prom, got their first car, their first kiss. Some got married, had their own children, were expecting their first child or grandchild. These were real people. With real hopes, dreams, cares and burdens.

And, in the blink of an eye their whole life is just ended.

Just... like... that.

And why? For what? For the very things that I, for one, take for granted: the right to be free. Free to say what I want (e.g. this blog), watch what I want, the right to believe in God, the right to have a say in the way this country is run, the right to be and do what seems right to me.

And they - and their families - and their loved ones - and their unborn children - and their wives/husbands - they paid the price. Whether they were killed in battle, or physically or mentally scarred for life - they all did the job - the VOLUNTARY job that they signed up for. The choice they made to help defend our country - regardless of role or branch of service - was and is an awesome one.

On behalf of me and my family - I just wanted to say Thank You.


P.S. - T0 CPL Wyatt Fulkerson (son of Bob and Oliva "Levy' Fulkerson in Somis, CA) - I'm so very glad you're back home after your tour in Japan and Iraq. It was great to see you this weekend - and I'm relieved to hear you'll be re-deployed here in the US for at least the next year. Thank you for your service!

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