In this pandemic world we seem to be increasingly focusing inward – the risk to us, the inconvenience, the job losses, and annoying rules. It’s a strange time as the world adopts new habits – new ways of thinking. The narrative is shifting.
But there are things I hope we never lose. Monday Memorial Day. Many Americans just treat it as a day off. This year it means I won’t be logging into the office so it will seem odd to have a holiday.
Sadly, I’m not seeing many people discussing Memorial Day. Our usual activities won’t be happening. There will be no gathering at the cemeteries, no bands, no flags, and I fear no remembrance of the price paid by so many of our sons and daughters.
My father served in WWII as did many others. He never saw combat and lived well into his 70’s. When he died at the VA, they sent me an American Flag that has sat in a case on my bookshelf for 19 years. Monday my thoughts will be for all those families who only have a flag left.
A conversation on a company chat this week reminded me of a trip I took in 1982 to Washington D.C. I’d gone back to hear Issac Asimov speak (I wrote about it a few years ago see: Memorial Day Remembering The Vietnam Veterans Memorial ). My coworkers were impressed that I’d had a chance to hear Dr. Asimov, but the strongest memory I have of that trip was going to see the Tomb of the Unknown and seeing the Vietnam Memorial just after it opened.
I’ve been to the Arlington National Cemetery three times.
Three times I’ve watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown.
Once I stood looking at the Korean War Memorial at night, in a light snow. Spot lights casting a ghostly shadow across the steel statues – a ghost platoon wearing ponchos crossing a field in the cold night.
How easy it is for us to forget the price of war.
How easy it is for us to fall into the trap of only thinking of our own comfort and forgetting the price of battle.
On Monday, for just one day, let’s set aside the virus and remember those who traded their life for a flag.