I’ve seen news reports about how this Memorial Day is going to be the most expensive holiday ever. Travel expenses include gas (of course!), hotels, food, and airfare. The complaints are rolling in as Americans weigh the cost against their vacation or trip to the lake. Judging from the traffic, I believe many of them chose travel.
Yes, we are going through some tough economic times, but those of us who have a little age on us have been there and done that many times before. To my way of thinking, Memorial Day should be a reminder of the ultimate sacrifices that others have made so that we are free to complain loudly and as often as we please.
In wartime, most Americans know who our enemy is. When my dad fought in World War II, he knew who the enemy was. He didn’t have a single doubt.
We’ve changed over the years. Now, we make enemies of those who disagree with us or who are different. Where Americans used to unite, now we are divided—about everything imaginable. We’ve forgotten that united we stand and divided we fall.
I will agree with one thing. This is an expensive holiday, but our sacrifices are small compared to those who died for the freedom we take for granted. Even worse than taking freedom for granted is being willing to throw it away to further a radical agenda.
At a gathering of Vietnam Veterans, one man said that he had died in Vietnam, but he just didn’t know it. That is how I think of Jim. He was never the same when he came home from Vietnam. He was haunted by his tour of duty and had physical pain that served as a constant reminder. As with many veterans and active military, he was often suicidal. I have no way to prove it, but I think his exposure to Agent Orange and PTSD contributed directly to the dementia that eventually claimed his life before his 60th birthday.
The sacrifices of our veterans aren’t measured by statistics; they are measured by grief. Individual sacrifices too often result in alcoholism, drug abuse, broken homes, divorce, homelessness, and suicide. Widows and widowers stoically accept a folded American flag at a gravesite.
Jim’s final resting place is the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville. The cemetery is a lovely, peaceful place that belies the turbulence of war. The flags flying above the cemetery and on the graves represent the country they defended at risk of their own lives.
Memorial Day isn’t about picnics, vacations, or drinking beer; it is about the freedom to have a picnic, take a vacation, or sit on the patio with friends drinking beer. It’s about our right to breathe fresh air, look at the stars, or hear an airplane without worrying about it dropping a bomb on us. It’s about loving our family, honoring those we’ve lost, and about the right to agree to disagree.
Copyright © May 2022 by L.S. Fisher