As a veteran, I reflect on Memorial Day in a way, I suppose, that is not a lot unlike the way others reflect on it. I hold the service of our young men and women in the United States Military to be a sacred duty. If it was up to me – and of course it is not – every young man should serve in the military at least two years. It would be a service to the government that has “pledged its sacred honor” to protect and defend the citizenry of those who live here. I wish every young man felt an obligation to serve (not inclined toward the draft), but since we are a free people, I feel it is a good thing that those who serve do so because of a desire to serve.
Having served just shy of eleven years (Honorable Discharge, Dec ’92), and having been in various parts of the world, I can say that my time in the service of this country has been without regret. I enlisted in the USAF and entered Basic Training in February 1982 (3 years out of high school). After six weeks of tolerable drudgery, I was given “orders” to Lowery AFB, Denver, and after another three month, I was given a PCS (permanent change of station) to Alamogordo, New Mexico (Holloman AFB) and served for eighteen months. It was in NM that I became a Christian (November, 1983). New Mexico was a good assignment for me – apart from me becoming a Christian – for I was in another part of the country, that I am sure, I would not have gone to on my own. It was there that I learned to appreciate natural beauty (there is nothing like playing on a baseball diamond, for the first time, with dirt outfields!). leaving NM, recently married (Aug ’83), we left for Guam. We lived on the small island (just over 200 square miles) for three years. On the island, my wife became a Christian and our daughter was born (both in 1985). We left the island in January 1987 and moved to Idaho – another place I would not have given thought to visit, much less to move there, but it great place it was to live.
Now, on just the underside of 50, how do I view Memorial Day? It is a day like any other day; it is an important day, but a day not so important that I view it extraordinarily different. However, it is a day that does give me pause. Think of the thousands who have served and died for the ideals of this country. Last evening I watched the History Channel’s two hour program on Washington, The Warrior (I DVR’d it); each evening I read a number of pages on the history of the Civil War and when I reflect on the individual men, I can’t help but regard the day as a sacred day (in terms less than how the term is generally applied in things religious). Many will visit cemeteries, many will go to a service held by the Legion, VFW, or other organizations commemorating the day, but I will come to the office a few hours, go home and cookout, and visit with friends. The day is significant to me, but extraordinary things other than what I do, it is not likely I will. Some are critical of men like me, but it would be a mistake to think that the day is insignificant – for it is not. I served proudly and without regret in the United States Air Force; I was fortunate to be TDY (temporary duty) in Saudi Arabia, but I am even more fortunate to live in a country where the men and women served and gave of themselves to a cause higher than their own.
On this Memorial Day weekend, remember those who serve. Remember them in your prayers, remember them in the things you do (that are ordinary or extraordinary), and remember their families.