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Memorial Day.

What does that mean to you?

To me, it means remembering the loss, tears surfacing as my heart aches once more for those I once knew.

Growing up in the shadow of a World War II and Korean Conflict veteran, I learned the true meaning of holidays such as these. In those days, I watched as the bbq was lit and the ice cold beer was passed around. A single bottle would be raised, many would follow. Most of the time not a word was spoken as though it was some sort of sign language. Each time the tribute was given, words would begin to rise up and fill the air. At first, they would be soft spoken and a single syllable but as the darkness would fall, like any other night, the gathering of men in arms would make it a night to remember for every child within hearing range. Only when these soldiers had consumed enough; their filters would fail and we would hear the truth.

Mothers would shoo us away from the men, some would force us to sleep. Some of us learned that if we sat quietly and played invisible we got to stick around. At that time, I had never seen a dead body, violence, hatred or evil. The stories seemed made up to me. My father would look at me and say “I hope you never understand”. Now, I say it.

Although I was fortunate enough to be spared some of the horrors that so many service people face, several of my friends that survived were not. While you attend the parties and laugh and have a good time, stop and think about why you are having that party. Yes, it is a day of celebration for the lives of those that sacrificed everything but it is also a day of mourning.