As a young child my parents would take me to the nearest cemetery on Memorial Day. I understood a little of what it meant back then. The flags lining the entry and adorning the graves of all the veterans. It was beautiful in my young and innocent mind. Later, as a drum and bugle corps member I remember going to the grave of a member that was lost. I believe he was not even in high school when he died. I think that was the day that I really began to know what it was all about.
Today, still, that cemetery lines the entry with those flags. They place flags on all the vets graves. However, it is different now. There are many more graves. I am the mother of a man who was in the military. While he served in peace time, it makes no difference in my heart. There are a couple more hats that I wear now. More than the mom hat and the grandma hat, I also wear the military mom hat. Sadly that hat sometimes covers the other "new" hat; that amputee hat. Each time I read of a new member welcomed into my gimp family I give them a small piece of my heart. Now there are new members joining my family at incredible rates. I feel for them not only as a gimp, but also as a military mom. I also lived through the clashes from the Vietnam war era. While I truly hope that a lesson was learned back then as far as treatment of the returning heroes, I fear these new heroes will be facing very similar problems as they integrate back into society. Would it not be very difficult to be reading of the trials and of demonstrations; the anti war stuff, the back lash? These people were given the hardest jobs on the face of the earth, and saw comrades lost. They possibly had to play a part in "mans inhumanity to man." They did not have to go to "rotten.com" to see death. They lived in it. Many found their lives as adults just beginning when they signed up, proudly I might add, to take on the job of protecting our freedom. I cry for them. I pray for them. I am proud of them all. Mostly, I respect them. I want to find some little way that I can give back to them.
My flag will fly on Memorial Day. I wake each morning, and go to bed each night, with a word of thanks to all in the military. To all of their families for the sacrifices they are giving. To our nation as a whole. I pray that we can remember that these folks are giving of themselves for us. Each and every one of us. We are America, not just "Americans." War sucks. Not so plain and simple if we remember the individuals that are put there. Giving of themselves. Please join me in saying a prayer for those that are enduring the extreme hardships of war. At least give it some thought?
As a kid, each school day was started by saying the "Pledge of Allegiance." We stood quietly, with hands on heart, facing the flag, singing, as each event began with the national anthem. We STOOD along parade routes, as a flag went by. Respect. We stood silent, hats off, as the members of the VA, the Navy band, the Marine color guard, the VFW members, proudly strutted down the parade route. I still do. But there is a difference. I cry. Tears run down my face. My pride is bigger than life itself. I am America.