Memorial Day. What do we think of when we say Memorial Day?
Back when we were small boys and girls, we couldn’t wait to see people bring flowers to pay respect to their families who had already passed on.
We would take the cardboard boxes and slide down the sage grass hills, but our biggest thrill was when the Veterans of Foreign Wars would come to pay their respect to our servicemen and women who had passed on.
They would all travel in Jeeps and 25 or 30 soldiers would line up to give the 21-gun salute and play taps. After the firing of the rifles and ‘Taps’ was played, we all would scramble to find the casings from the shells.
But as time went by we grew up, and now we pay respect to our families and friends. Our lives are so filled with plans, big and small, parties, trips, meetings. We all know how unpredictable life is, it can change in the blink of an eye. Just ask any soldier who’s come back home from the battlefield strapped to a wheelchair. Yes, the blink of an eye.
That’s how fast a bomb explodes under your feet, or a bullet pierces through your spine or a piece of shrapnel lodges in your skull, and the plans that a soldier had laid out for his life are forever changed. Some have come back in wheelchairs, others without arms. Even more have scars you can’t see — they are emotionally broken, whether they served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any point in between.
Much of their suffering comes from our own government. The VA is underfunded, overwhelmed, and is a bureaucratic maze.
Just as we honor the men and women who have served and died, our promise is to honor the men and women who have served and struggle to live. You and I know that being an American is a privilege that comes with responsibility and a standing call to help others in need.
Is there a day on the calendar when we know a soldier’s nightmares of the war he thought he left behind will stop? Is it possible to write the words that will heal the heart of a mother whose once-vibrant son now and forever depends on a ventilator just to breathe?
Please remember that when you and I serve our neighbors through our sacrifi ces, we honor those who died for freedom, and we better the lives of others.
So God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. DARRELL HOLBROOK U.S. Army Veteran Letcher County Veterans Memorial Museum Mayking