Monday, May 31, 2010

memorial day

Just now I was looking out my kitchen window at my next door neighbor as he lowered his flag and then properly folded it military style with a calm respect that I found moving. He didn’t know I was watching so he wasn’t putting on a show for my benefit. His private patriotism was more admirable for its solitude.

On this Memorial Day I wonder how often his actions are repeated throughout this country by people like him who proudly fly the flag and respect it in a solemn way. Yes today is a day to remember all those who have served our country during its many conflicts as well las those who served in times of peace. The tie that binds all those many thousands of service men and women is the very service they give to all of us.

I never fail to get goose bumps when I hear our national anthem played or sung. I, too, proudly fly the colors in my front yard year round. Everyday when I see that flag unfurled in the breeze I never fail to think about all those men and women who sacrificed their lives for us and our way of life. I know that sounds a bit corny, but it is true. It may be a fleeting thought and not deeply profound, but the fact that I, and many like me, actually think about our soldiers is the important thing. I have on many occasions carried that feeling of grateful respect out on a more personal level by approaching a service man in uniform out in public and thanking him
and shaking his hand. Invariably that soldier is at first startled and confused about how to react until he realizes that I am sincere. Then he always addresses me as “Sir” and thanks me. A jolt of patriotism courses through me at those times that lasts throughout the day.

A more profound feeling of thanks and solemn awe at the sacrifice of another young life hits me deep in my heart whenever I see another flag draped coffin borne to its final resting place. When the mournful notes of Taps send off another young soul, I have to fight back the tears, cursing the result of war. So I feel it’s important to recognize and thank our young soldiers while we can so that when the next flag draped coffin arrives, that selflessly brave young man or woman resting there will have known that their sacrifice was recognized, appreciated, and blessed. So the next time you encounter one of our finest, please don’t hesitate to offer him or her a heartfelt thank you and a handshake to send them on their way knowing that what they are doing is not just important, but vital to us and our country.

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