Today is Memorial Day. Many of us are off work and school–including me, which is why shaving and putting on a suit aren’t on my to-do list today. That is for a reason. But I find it’s so, so easy to go through the day not thinking at all about what that reason is.
First of all, since this is a political blog, let’s make clear that that reason has nothing to do with politicians or politics. It’s not to commemorate the guys who sit in safety and make decisions, particularly the ones (and there are many) who refuse to make the tough calls when they need to be made. It’s not to debate the wisdom of the decisions they’ve made recently regarding Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or so many other places–nor is it for us here at EFM to convince you that Mitt Romney would make those decisions better than the competition.
Rather, it is to honor men who–at an age some would cynically call “too old”–are profoundly concerned by attacks on the country they love, so much that they go out of their way to be sent overseas to defend against such attacks. Men like EFM’s own David, and like my day-job coworker Jay, both of whom signed up after 9/11.
It is to honor the many other men and women, some of whom were David and Jay’s friends, who never did what David and Jay did–that is, came home into the arms of those who love them.
It is to honor spouses who themselves made huge sacrifices while their other halves were off doing what David and Jay have done–sacrifices that get much less attention–to keep their families functioning. One of them, of course, is our own Nancy.
It is to honor families that do things that sound un-doable–things like going into labor all alone while your husband is in Korea fighting the communists, as my own grandmother, my daughter Adeline’s namesake, did back in 1951.
It is to honor people who risk the things they hold most dear for the rest of us, who don’t bother. I think of my sister Shelley, who is in Kuwait right now. We often think of people risking their lives, but what Shelley probably holds even more dear than her own life is her marriage, to my brother Jonathan–and because she agreed to serve, she is spending the entire second year of that marriage away from her husband.
Don’t let anybody fool you. We’re not off work and school today so we can eat hot dogs, or so stores can have sales. We’re not even off so we can have a vague, fuzzy sense that some faraway, distant people wearing uniforms did something good once upon a time.
There is a Memorial Day because real people, with names, faces, families, problems, and cojones have been putting themselves in the crucible for hundreds of years–and are doing so today, right now–so we can have a free country in which we choose our leaders and our places of worship.
That’s reality. Let’s not get distracted from it. And let’s thank the Davids, Nancys, Jays, Adelaides, Shelleys, and Jonathans in our own lives.