As of this writing it has been 6829 days of continuous war. Every Soldier, Marine, Airman and Sailor has who has served since that fateful day has been affected by loss. Perhaps not directly but they have walked through the doors of buildings and bases named for our fallen. The lessons learned have been passed on to them. For those of us that have seen it close, we carry that burden daily.
Memorial Day is for reflection but most of us do that throughout the year.
General Patton once said “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Patton was on to something and I wish I could follow it fully. The opening of Black Hawk Down gave us another thought that many of us understand now “Only the dead have seen the end of war” which is attributed to Plato by Douglas MacArthur. Memorial Day is to look back to those who have paid the price. It is a National Holiday to remind the Nation of the cost of our way of life.
One trend I have seen is to shame those who do not know the flavor of freedom. Veterans shame those who view this weekend as a reason to party and enjoy the first meat on the grill of the summer. What we fail to realize is that their ignorance to the cost is a victory. This means most of our citizens know only peace. We have succeeded in keeping the wolf outside the gates. If they take a moment and raise a glass to our fallen that is great. If they do not, so be it.
Freedom truly does have a flavor the protected will never know. I would argue that they should never know it. They should never know the searing pain of seeing aircraft drop a series of flares in salute. They should never have to fill their nostrils with the smell of death. If they come to know these things, then they have volunteered to be among us, or we have failed and all the blood that was spilled was for naught. May they forever remain ignorant to it.
For the rest of us, raise a glass yourself. Spend a few minutes in reflection while the steaks cook, and the rest of the beer gets cold. Contact a war buddy you have not talked to in a while. Wish them well. Look around at those who do not know and smile. That is your legacy.